Magazine article American Libraries

Referenda Roundup: Some Wins, Some Losses

Magazine article American Libraries

Referenda Roundup: Some Wins, Some Losses

Article excerpt

After a yearlong battle over Internet access, on November 4 voters in Medina County, Ohio, renewed the library's $19-million, 10-year levy. The campaign captured national attention because of opposition organized by a coalition that includes the Citizens for the Protection of Children and the Medina County Christian Coalition. In May, the coalition launched an attack in the state assembly on the Ohio Public Library Information Network, focusing on Medina's age-neutral stance on Internet access. When the campaign in the legislature was unsuccessful, it vowed to defeat the library levy (AL, Nov., p. 15-18).

The Medina levy passed with a solid 57.2% of the vote. The millage raises $1.8 million, or 43% of the library's budget, each year. Library Director Bob Smith said that the coalition members probably "will not go away. They will be back to continue to put the library under the microscope."

Meanwhile, local library ballot issues faced tough opposition in other elections. In many districts, voters seemed unwilling to increase their tax bills to accommodate library facilities and services.

American Libraries' state-by-state roundup of library referenda and other local ballot measures is based on reports from state library agencies and other sources.

Alaska. In Haines, a proposition for a $400,000 borough (county) bond to help finance a new borough library passed in every precinct, garnering 70% of the votes cast.

California. Measure A, a referendum to raise money for the Hayward Public Library over the next 32 years, fell far short of the two-thirds vote required to pass. It would have raised an estimated $13 million annually and helped to pay for the construction of a new main library. According to the bill's supporters, Hayward's collection is the smallest among cities of comparable size in the state.

Colorado. Six districts were successful in "deBrucing" their library budgets. In 1992, Colorado had passed Amendment 1, a tax-limitation measure sponsored by Colorado Springs businessman Douglas Bruce. The amendment allows for communities to opt out of these restrictions, a process known locally as "deBrucing."

Mill levies won approval in Mesa, Delta, San Miguel, and Hinsdale counties, as well as the Meeker Regional Library District, while others failed in Adams County, Pine River, and Trinidad.

Connecticut. A $3.5-million bond issue for renovation of the Woodbridge Town Library lost by 13 votes. The town has scheduled a second vote for November 13. A $1.5-million bond issue for expansion of the Mansfield Public Library passed by nearly four to one, but a request for $3.2 million for a statewide network recently failed to win approval in the state legislature.

Illinois. The overall success rate for 27 library referenda in Illinois was 33%, with nine of 27 ballot questions passing. Four bond issues were on the ballot for libraries in the Chicago suburbs but only two, the Zion-Benton and Frankfort public library districts, were successful.

A $28-million bond issue for a new facility at the Gail Borden Public Library District in Elgin was defeated, along with a mill levy to support staffing and equipment. An $8.5-million bond issue for the Eisenhower Public Library District in Harwood Heights also failed.

Iowa. Creston voters defeated by 63% a proposal to change the method of electing trustees for the public library. Orange City and Alden passed referenda for new libraries, while similar proposals were rejected in Eldora, Calmar, and Hartley.

Michigan. …

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