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State of our libraries: Lending opinions

| Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

Once again our elected leadership is reactive and not proactive.

The revisited issue is whether revenue from property taxes should support our public libraries. North Apollo is the recent stage.

Twice voters there have supported using 0.75-mill of real estate tax revenue to support the library in Apollo. That borough has the same allocation of tax revenue.

But now North Apollo council members believe it would be better to use that money for something else (not eliminating the tax) and are considering another referendum, apparently thinking voters will be less supportive of the library come November.

There are several libraries in Armstrong County, all supported in various ways, including government funds and community fundraising efforts. The tacit debate is over their importance to the public.

In an age when someone aboard a bus can do studious research using a hand-held device, how vital is a library with books and computers?

Leaders at the state, county and municipal levels need to do a little research themselves, checking the numbers of library users (Apollo Library says its usage was up 16 percent between 2011 and 2012) and looking at how libraries operate not only as book repositories but also as community centers for all ages.

We suggest a countywide exploration of the value of libraries, a real concerted dialogue. As we say, that will require some leadership.

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