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One For The Books County Libraries Seek $7.6 Million Bond Issue Again

Thu., Jan. 4, 1996

Same issue. Same voters. Five months later.

This time will be different, say supporters of the Spokane County Library District, which in February will ask county residents to approve the same bond proposal they rejected in September.

“Voter apathy was our enemy, not voter opposition,” said Vick Myers-Canfield, co-chairwoman of the campaign committee, Citizens for Spokane County Libraries.

Actually, apathy and opposition combined to shoot down the $7.66 million bond issue, which would buy a new computer system, more books and bigger buildings.

Turnout in September fell short of the 29,000 voters required to validate the election. And only 56 percent of the voters supported the issue, less than the 60 percent needed for passage.

The validation requirement, based on turnout in the previous November election, will be lower on Feb. 6. And campaigners count on getting more supporters to the polls through mailings and Internet messages.

“Perhaps some people thought to themselves that they didn’t have to worry about it (voting),” said Myers-Canfield. “There’s this apathy that said, ‘Oh well, this is sure to pass.”’

If library patronage is any indication, the bond issue should receive significant support.

Some 75,000 people had library cards in 1987, said Mike Wirt, district director. This year, the number is 110,000, and users also are checking out 40 percent more materials than eight years ago.

Voters approved a $5 million library bond issue in 1988 - the first time the district put a request on the ballot. The money was used to build new branches and expand old ones.

Today’s $7.66 million bond issue would set aside:

$2.1 million for a computer system.

Users could search hundreds of magazines by key words or topics. They could conduct the searches from their home computers or in the library.

Students would have the same access at school. The bond proposal includes money to buy one computer each for 28 middle schools, junior highs and high schools within library district boundaries.

$2 million for books and other materials.

About $3.5 million for building new branch libraries in Airway Heights and Deer Park and expanding branches in Cheney and Fairfield.

The bond issue would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $12 a year for 10 years beginning in 1997. The 1988 bond issue, which will be paid off at the end of 1997, costs about the same amount.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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