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Measure A failure closes book on library services

Haylie Phillips plays on a kids' computer at the Del Norte Library. (The Daily Triplicate/Matt Mais).
Haylie Phillips plays on a kids' computer at the Del Norte Library. (The Daily Triplicate/Matt Mais).

By Ty Gonrowski

Triplicate staff writer

When Janeice Campbell takes the Del Norte County Public Library's Wonder Bus out out on the road, she said she feels like the Pied Piper.

Kids come running when they see the bus full of books and activities arrive, said Campbell, who runs the library's mobile reading program.

But the Wonder Bus and the library's summer reading program for kids could both be casualties of voters' rejection of Measure A last week.

"We can't provide services to the full spectrum of the community anymore," said library director Patty Hector.

Although cuts will officially be discussed at next Wednesday's library board meeting, Campbell said she's sure that her position, and the Wonder Bus will be cut.

"I knew that the Wonder Bus would be let go if (Measure) A didn't pass," she said.

The measure failed by 42 votes on June 6.

The bus serves 28 sites throughout the county, exposing kids to books, computers and other activities.

It has stopped at Grace Lutheran Preschool every two weeks.

Marilyn Munz, who substitutes at the school, said that when the bus would come, whatever lesson they were working on would have to be scrapped because the kids would be hyped up.

"We've got to hurry up and finish the calendar and get on the bus," she said.

Deborah Depee, a teacher at Grace Lutheran, said it's going to be tough not seeing the bus show up anymore.

"It's going to be really a sad loss for the kids," she said. "They count on that bus coming every other week."

When the bus came, kids were able to hear a story read, pick out a book for themselves to take home and use computers on the bus.

Campbell said that during the summer, the bus would travel to Klamath, Fort Dick, Crescent City, Gasquet and Smith River, spreading the reading program.

At the stops, kids could earn points towards prizes by doing things like crafting a book report, finding something on a map or reading books aloud.

"It's more than just literacy," she said, explaining that the different activities taught about science, public speaking, history and many other areas.

A reduced summer program for kids may continue at the library, but there is no word yet on how much will be offered because of the anticipated cuts.

Measure A would have provided about $400,000 in funding for the library annually through a sales tax.

The projected budget for next year is $192,000.

"I don't have a book budget," Hector said, explaining that she has to rely on grants and donations to expand the library's collection that currently stands at 40,000 books.

And although she said many people have donated books since Measure A failed, that's really not what the library need right now.

"What we need is cash," Hector said, and although small donations help, the library needs to increase its renewable funds.

"I need stable funding," she said.

 


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