Volunteer Debi Ady (left) with Cathy Jo Clawson at the Friends of the Library book sale Sept. 29 where hundreds of donated books were sold to support the Key Center branch of the Pierce County Library System. Photo: Lisa Bryan, KP News

Volunteer Debi Ady (left) with Cathy Jo Clawson at the Friends of the Library book sale Sept. 29 where hundreds of donated books were sold to support the Key Center branch of the Pierce County Library System. Photo: Lisa Bryan, KP News

After operating for 12 years since its last restoration levy in 2006, the Pierce County Rural Library District is asking voters on the Nov. 6 ballot to restore the entire 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation they are entitled to collect from property taxes. It is not a new tax. 

Property owners in unincorporated Pierce County paid 47.7 cents per $1,000 in 2017, a tax rate that fell to just below 43 cents per $1,000 in 2018. 

“When you think about all the money spent to add to the quality of your life, the library is one of the real gems out here,” Ann Campy said. As current president of the Friends of the Key Center Library, Campy said her entire board strongly supports Proposition 1.

The Friends of the Key Center Library raises funds and organizes free, fun and informative programs to help the library fill special needs, according to their mission statement. 

Campy said that people who don’t use the library regularly may not be aware of all the benefits of a fully funded library in Key Center.

 “For most small communities, especially on the Key Peninsula, our library is central to who we are, what we do, and how we form our community,” she said. “Libraries are the center of everything.” 

The costs to operate and maintain libraries and the services they offer have risen by an average of 4 to 7 percent annually, according to the district. The population within the district has risen by 16 percent since 2006. 

A 2001 Washington state voter-approved initiative capped year-to-year growth of property taxes for all taxing districts including libraries, causing annual variations in the tax rate. Proposition 1 asks voters to approve lifting that statutory 1 percent cap to permit collection of the 50 cent tax rate for the next six years and stabilize the library funding needed to maintain current library services. Approximately 94 percent of the funding for the library system comes from property taxes in unincorporated Pierce County.

“Today our libraries are all about the individual’s success,” Pierce County Library Executive Director Georgia Lomax said. “How do we help them with whatever is important to them at this time in their life? As our technology has changed, what our people do has evolved.

“So much information is available right on your smartphone, but how do you build your skills so you can get a job that pays more than poverty level?” she said. “How do you transition to a civilian job after being a soldier? How do we help you with your tech skills? How do we help you with your people skills? How do we help parents with their kids, so their brains develop before they go to school, so they can be ready to succeed and be great students at school and become great citizens in the future?”

“Librarians are there to help you access a world of ideas,” Campy said. Recounting her own son’s experience, she said, “He was extremely shy growing up and the library was his safe place. Those librarians, people like Dory Myers, were so kind and supportive to him back then.” Now 45, her son is a college professor. 

“After Dory, we had Rosina Vertz who was so wonderful and now Corrine Weatherly is our supervising librarian in Key Center,” Campy said. “Corrine is doing great things and is already making a difference here too.” 

For more information, email FriendsofKeyCenterLibrary@gmail.com or visit their page on Facebook.

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