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Email to the Editor: City Residents' Library Experience Could be Enriched with KCLS

Bonnie Warner writes that her family has experienced excellent and personable service from KCLS libraries and encourages voters to choose yes to annexation.

Why should you vote yes to annex into the King County Library System? First and foremost, you will get more bang for your buck! If the city administration continues operating the library, they will need the funding equivalent of 65 cents per thousand assessed value (per Library Board's letter of June 2011). KCLS will more efficiently provide a broader range of services and materials for only 50 cents per thousand. Either way, taxpayers will end up funding a levy in order to keep the library open.

KCLS is one of the best library systems in the U.S. You don't have to take my word for it. In 2011 KCLS was named “Library of the Year” by the Library Journal. Unlike the City of Enumclaw, KCLS has one focus, operating great libraries. The City has other priorities, especially those of public safety, which take the City's dwindling revenues.

KCLS has a combination of 46 libraries, so it has many more resources (books, movies, music, databases, user friendly web services, children's and adult programs, etc.) than Enumclaw alone could ever supply. If my KCLS branch doesn't have the item that I want, it can usually be delivered there within a few days. The Enumclaw Library, with its small scale, rarely has the material that I am seeking.   

KCLS has reciprocal agreements with a large number of library systems in Washington. KCLS members who reside in the KCLS district or pay property taxes to KCLS have access to these other libraries for free, including the nearby Pierce County Library System. If your work, travels, or computer research take you to these other libraries, you can access their materials for free.

For just $125 per year in taxes on a $250,000 home, you will receive an amazing array of services from KCLS delivered here, in Enumclaw, no lengthy drive required! Services available at KCLS branches include: a wide range of current books, eBooks, magazines, movies, and music; adult and children's programs; free use of meeting and conference rooms; computer instruction classes; online classes; job assistance programs; and a huge range of databases, including historical newspapers, genealogical information, foreign language instruction, current periodicals and automotive repair manuals. The KCLS libraries also have great hours of service, generally being open six to seven days a week.

For those with questions about the Library Transfer Agreement, the City has tried to answer them. The questions that I have frequently heard were answered by City administrator, Mike Thomas. He stated, “...if KCLS should cease use of the Enumclaw library at its current location, the building and improvement shall revert back to the City.” Mr. Thomas also said, “...KCLS is obligated to provide library services within the City...” So in other words, to dispel the fears, KCLS cannot just take our money and run.

Under Enumclaw's municipal system, the library has languished. It has not been supported in the way that it should be. Other than Seattle, Enumclaw is the only city-run library in King County. I think that is because a library district works best for smaller cities. There is a lot of anger, suspicion, and fear coming from some of the people who are against annexing into KCLS. I just want citizens to know that KCLS and its staff have always provided my family with excellent, personable service and that it has been a tremendous value for the tax dollars that we have paid.

Voting yes to annex into KCLS will give Enumclaw's library more hours and better educational and recreational materials. Uniting with our neighboring communities in KCLS will broaden our community and bring to the city of Enumclaw the extensive library service that the rest of King County already has. Change should not be feared, it is an opportunity to grow. I look forward to the progress and possibilities that lie ahead for Enumclaw. That is why I marked yes on my ballot and encourage you to do the same!

Bonnie Warner, Enumclaw

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