LETTER TO EDITOR: Libraries are central to lifelong learning


Board of Commissioners for Tillamook County

Chair Tim Josi, Vice Chair David Yamamoto, Commissioner Bill Baertlein

When we think of libraries, we tend to think of books, and rightly so: public libraries are by far our largest bookstores. For every two books sold in America, one book is borrowed from a public library.

But libraries are so much more than bookstores.  Our libraries are places of information, offering us free access to a wealth of information that we can’t find elsewhere, whether online, in print or in person. Whether we are looking for DVDs or the latest best-seller; health or business information found on internet databases not accessible at home, or going for story times and community programming, our libraries are a center of community for Tillamook County.

In addition to connecting people to information, our libraries connect people to people. They are safe havens for our kids and grandkids when school is not in session. Our libraries offer computer classes, enabling our seniors to stay engaged in our digital world. Our libraries level the playing field serving people of every age, income level, and location throughout the county providing the full range of information resources to live, learn, and work.

We have five branch libraries in Tillamook County. The Manzanita, Rockaway Beach, and Pacific City buildings are owned and maintained by their local Library Friends organizations. The Bay City and Garibaldi branches are owned by the cities. The County Library system operates the branches with staff, collections, services and programs.

Another great library outreach is provided by the bookmobile, which serves farms, daycare centers, nursing homes, schools and residents for whom travel to a branch is difficult or impossible. Let’s not forget the great collaboration provided by Oceanbooks Network which enables our cardholders the ability to search and check out items from libraries in Lincoln City and Newport…all delivered to your nearest branch library.

Considering Tillamook County has around 25,000 total residents, it is quite astounding to look at the numbers generated at our libraries. Last fiscal year, we had over 400,000 items checked out, and nearly 200,000 library visits, 65,000 online sessions, 19,000 cardholders, and 14,000 people attending 968 library programs. All in all, terrific numbers for a county of our size.

An educated workforce is essential to economic development, and education is now a lifelong necessity. Our libraries are proven, neighborhood-based centers for lifelong learning, offering free, technology-rich and self-directed learning for the whole family in one place.

A growing body of research identifies public libraries and summer reading as singularly valuable to fighting “the summer slide” that is causal to high drop-out rates. A three-year study by Dominican University found that students who participated in public library summer reading programs scored higher on reading achievement tests at the beginning of the next school year.

On May 16, residents of Tillamook County will vote on Measure 29-1446, a proposed levy to renew countywide library services. The Tillamook County Library has been successful in utilizing voter approved levy’s since 1983 to fund operations. The amount requested (65 cents/$1000 assessed valuation) is unchanged from the previous levy. Your Tillamook County Commissioners strongly urge you to support this indispensable component of our community.

“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”

– Walter Cronkite