MARION, Iowa- At a special meeting on August 7, 2013, the Marion Public Library Board of Trustees voted to seek a library levy of 27 cents, an increase of 23 cents over the 4 cent levy that voters approved in 1989. “On a home valued at $100,000, that’s an increase of $23.00, or a little bit less than the cost of a single hardcover book,” said Library Director Doug Raber. “We’ve been under pressure to keep up with Marion’s rapid growth. Our circulation grew every year for the last decade and last year hit just over 900,000 items. We need more staff to maintain the level of personal customer service our patrons have come to expect.”
Marion’s population is growing at a rate of about 1,000 new residents a year and is expected to hit 40,000 by 2020. Young families with children make up a lot of that growth and local seniors who decide to retire close to home are choosing Marion. Raber said that there is a need to get staff out of the library and to where its users live and go to school. The library plans to hire new staff to provide these outreach services in addition to continuing to offer a full range of programming and services.
The library is also in the early planning stages for a renovation and expansion of the Uptown facility. A committee was formed to discuss facility needs and identify desirable features. Later this month the library will host a public forum to begin getting public input and ideas. In the short run, the levy will allow the library to fund architecture and design work based on the findings of the Renovation and Expansion Committee. In the long run, it will provide for the additional people needed to staff a larger facility.
To get a levy vote on the ballot this fall, a petition signed by at least 10% of the number of people who voted in the last general election must be presented to the City Council. If the Council approves the ballot language, the request needs to be submitted to the County Auditor’s Office by September 20th. “We’ve started to organize the petition drive,” Raber said. “We don’t have a lot of time.” The Friends of the Marion Public Library and the Marion Public Library Foundation will be leading the petition drive. In Marion, the petition will need about 1,200 signatures.
For additional information, contact: Doug Raber, Marion Public Library, 319-377-3412, firstname.lastname@example.org