One library task yet to complete

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: February 18 2014 | 12:01 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 3:47 am in
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Gazette Editorial Board

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Bob Pasicznyuk’s leadership and expertise were vital in bringing a state-of-the-art central library and an expanded westside library to Cedar Rapids.

They are signature accomplishments of the post-flood recovery period of which this community can be proud and use toward a better quality of life for many residents. Thanks to state and federal disaster funding, local-option sales tax revenue and donations, they were built without public debt.

Now, Pasicznyuk, who came here to take the director’s job in 2009, is returning to Douglas County, Colo., as executive director for a larger library system.

While his achievements here were notable, one thing he and other city leaders have not yet solved regarding our libraries remains: How to cover their operation expenses.

This is no new problem. An annual shortfall not far from $1 million had surfaced before the Flood of 2008 ravaged the library and much of our community’s central core. There was talk of asking the voters to increase the library levy, which at 4 cents per $1,000 of valuation, is one of the state’s lowest.

With all the other challenges facing the city during flood recovery, library officials opted not to push for a levy increase on the ballot. They’ll likely need to do that by November 2015. There also may be other parts to help piece together the money puzzle.

Surely, the investment in our libraries must be matched by a prudent commitment to fund their efficient, effective operation. More people than ever count on these facilities for books, e-books, Internet access, constructive community interactions and evolving partnerships with other agencies to improve education opportunities for an increasing number of at-risk youth. Tackling and solving this challenge is important to our community’s future.

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