Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Changing Times - Current Library Services Seriously Rejected by Voters?

To All COLA LO Members,

Last month we provided details on the election and the interesting rejection of the Library Bond Measure by voters in LO.   However we didn't provide the details of how overwhelmingly the Library was rejected.
The final results are now in and some details are public on the bond measure.   The details provide a stunning rebuke of what was once thought to be a core service in the community.  
The rejection doesn't come as a surprise to many members who have been arguing that the library needs to change its services and delivery.   For several years now board members have heard from many residents that a change was required.   Residents indicated that they wanted to see the library moved to the west side of LO or that services needed to begin to transition to electronic delivery at satellite locations.    There were a variety of ideas but all involved change
Here is the final tally of voters on the bond measure:
Yes   - 9,121   42.08%
No    - 12,556  57.92%
While the bond measure lost by 15.85%, COLA analysts noted it was voted down by LO residents in all 3 Counties!  Its very clear that residents did not support additional investment in the library through increased taxes.   
Additional details provide a unique insight into the breadth of this rejection across the city, despite a huge investment to support the measure YES LOPL PAC.  The PAC spent nearly $13K to support the passing of the bond.   Several members and residents had wondered why there was no organized opposition to the bond proposal. 
Information recently released by the County Clerk shows that the rejection is much deeper than the actual vote count may imply.  
  • The fact is that voters in 77% of the geographic area of the city actually voted against the Library Bond!!!!!
Only  First Addition and Halinan - Foothills  areas actually voted for the Library Bond.   Notably both of these areas are perceived to be "downtown"  while the remaining eight areas within the city all voted against the bond including residents of multnomah county.  
The entire west side of Lake Oswego voted against the library in a stunning rebuke.   This vote confirms what many members have been saying over the past few years which is the library is perceived to be a downtown operation, with limited service to west side residents.   The west side is the population center of  the city.    
Many residents expected the Library to move to the WEB building to expand service to the west side.  When this was flatly rejected by the current administration Library Proposal , its likely the fate of any future library bonds or enhancements to the library were sealed.  
What members have been telling us along with a wide variety of residents has finally been supported by a citywide vote.   
  • There is a core perception that the location of services and the enhancements made in the downtown area have been at the expense of the demographic center of Lake Oswego, the west side.    Voters are no longer willing to support this unfair emphasis on a limited percentage of the population.  
Will the new City council force the library to move its services to the West side and take advantage of unused space at the WEB, despite claims that book shelves will require upgrades?   
Will the Library begin transitioning to less programs and more electronic options in a new distributive service model?   Residents are asking these questions.    Its clear that the current model doesn't meet the needs or desires of the broader community. 
Did voters in the community realize that the proposed amount of the bond measure could actually purchase several kindles or tablets for every household in the community of Lake Oswego!   All the while the WEB building continues to be relatively unoccupied in the population center of Lake Oswego.   From what we have heard over the past four years, its clear they did realize this, and voters acted accordingly.     
The question is what direction will the new 2013 City council take in terms of the future of the Library and delivery of services toward the west side?  Only time will tell but a very loud message has been sent in our community...

Please notify all members, contacts, and friends.

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