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Library supporters are hoping that tax measure passes this time around

Wilbert Sharp peruses 'The A-Z to Cars' in the Del Norte County Public Library (The Daily Triplicate/Matt Mais).
Wilbert Sharp peruses 'The A-Z to Cars' in the Del Norte County Public Library (The Daily Triplicate/Matt Mais).

WHERE THE MONEY WOULD GO

Measure A would limit use of the sales tax revenue to:

• Expanding days and/or hours the libraries are open.

• Promoting family literacy and school readiness through programs such as the Wonder Bus.

• Restoring programs for children, youth, adults and seniors.

• Making library access easier through technology and facility enhancements.

• Increasing and improving the books and media collection.

• Extending services to Gasquet or Hiouchi.

By Karen Wilkinson

Triplicate staff writer

Patty Hector foresees a library that's open seven days a week, with shelves overflowing with new books and enough staff to keep up with the demand.

"The best thing a library can be is open," said Hector, the Del Norte County Library director. "You can't check out a book if we're not open."

At present, the library is open just four days a week — from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

But her vision of a bustling, reader-friendly library may not be too far off in the future.

Del Norters have the option, again, to vote on Measure A — which, if passed by a two-thirds majority, would raise the county's sales tax by one-fourth of 1 percent. This translates to $1 per $400 spent.

Right now the library receives no sales tax. The measure would sunset in eight years.

The revenue could more than double the library's annual budget, which at roughly $180,000, isn't enough to make ends meet, Hector said.

"Hopefully there's more awareness of what it takes to get this thing passed," Hector said, referring to the library measure on the November 2004 ballot, which fell 63 votes short of passage.

This year's library measure already has its supporters.

Tony Dantzman and his wife Bev, frequent library patrons, have already cast their ballots — through absentee voting — and are hopeful that others will follow suit.

"I'm all for it," said Tony, who voted "yes" two years ago. He said the library is treated like a stepchild and not as the priority such a community body should be.

Tedd Ward, who is on the library board of trustees, is hopeful that voters make their way to the bottom of the ballot this year and vote on Measure A.

"A lot of people voted for the president or his opponent (in 2004) and didn't make it to the bottom of the ballot," Ward said.

The library receives most of its money through property tax — which at 1.1 percent of each dollar, can not keep up with inflation and costs to operate.

"There are a lot of programs that we could do, but we don't have the staff," said Kelley Nolan, adult literacy coordinator for Del Norte Reads.

Nolan, who is one of two full-time library employees, said Measure A would give Del Norte residents more options — more days and hours to frequent the library, more up-to-date reading material and more staff to assist patrons.

"It's about having more choices (and) right now we need more choices," Nolan said.

Hector said it's simple to see why this county's library needs such help.

"Just come see us because that will explain all," Hector said, referring to the shelves filled with old books, the nearly 25-year-old facility and times when the library is staffed by only two people.

Though she can't advocate the measure either way, Hector said the library is like a community center — it's a place for people to gather, talk and read.

And every time a new shipment of books is on the shelves, "they fly out the door," she said.

Ward said he's hopeful that voters don't have trouble with this year's measure. After all, all the money would go directly to the library.

"Every day that the library is closed and people try to use it is a minor tragedy," he said. "Hopefully it's a tragedy we can bring to an end."

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