The votes have been counted and we know that Measure A again has narrowly failed at the ballot box. The Del Norte County Library will not be receiving the $400,000 in annual funding this ballot measure would have provided.

Now it's time to put away the crying towels and start thinking about creative ways to save our library.

Let's face it, losing by fewer than 50 votes was hard to take especially for the second time.

The committee for Measure A did its best, but the two-thirds approval for the measure to pass is just too high of bar to get over.

Some people will vote no on anything that even smells like a tax. In this community that apparently amounts to just over one-third of those who vote.

They have the power to deny the majority of the people the library services that are so vital to keeping our community vital and vibrant.

Some people were asking themselves, andquot;What do we need a library for when we have access to the best library in the world through the internet?andquot;

The answer is, of course, that you can't get local background through the internet.

You can't research the history of Del Norte County and Crescent City through the internet. There will never likely be a time when back issues of the old Crescent City American newspaper will be on the internet. Considering that the Daily Triplicate only saves issues for six months, the only place where we can view older copies is at the library through microfiche.

We need our library if for no other reason than the research opportunities it offers for us to find out about our own past.

So what can we do?

We failed at the ballot box and as costs rise, our library will have to cut back services until some day down the road when it might simply have to shut its doors.

I for one don't want to see that day.

I would like to propose a solution. It's probably not the best one, or the most practical, but I think we need to at least try it.

My solution is that we voluntarily tax ourselves.

It was estimated that Measure A would have cost the average family about $15 per year. Many of us were more than willing to pay it if it meant expanded services at the library longer hours, more days open, and keeping the Wonder Bus on the road.

Most of us can afford $15 per year and would be willing to give even more to make up for those who can't afford that amount.

The library has a fund-raising arm called the Friends of the Library. They are able to collect donations on behalf of the library.

So if each one of us contributed $15 per year as an individual and donated an additional $15 for each member of our household the library would bring in over $400,000 per year.

The library could honor those who choose to keep the library alive and healthy by establishing an honor roll of donors. That same honor roll could be published in the newspaper for all the world to see proof that you can make good things happen when you put your money where your mouth is.

The schools could take part in this effort with each class raising money to save our library. The individual classes could be listed as members of the honor roll.

Ten years down the road I don't want to say that we used to have a library in Crescent City, but the people let it close because they couldn't find a way to save it.

We have a way. As I said, the solution I am suggesting might not be the best or most practical way to address this funding situation, but I do believe that it could work to save our library from extinction.

We can do this if we act together. We can prove that we can voluntarily tax ourselves to save our library.

We just can't afford to let our library fail. We do have the means to save it.

Bob Berkowitz is a longtime Del Norte County resident and community activist.