Julie Jones-Eddy: Craig native weighs in on 1A
As a three-generation native of Craig, a librarian, and current Moffat County taxpayer, I was saddened to see the failure of the 1A mill levy. I have lived and worked in Colorado Springs for many years and am used to paying a county mill levy tax of 3.9 percent for El Paso County Libraries. The library services are free for all and paid for by the taxpayers of El Paso County. I see that 1A was asking for 2.85-percent mill levy in Moffat County to support the library and the museum. A mill levy specifically designated for the library and the museum gives them the ability to forecast their revenues with more assurance into multiple years rather than being dependent on whatever the county (and/or city) decides they can give them each year. The year-to-year budget allocation in a tight economy makes planning for renovation, staffing, book budgets, online resources, and equipment turnover very hard to anticipate. If the budget is cut to the level of some of the proposals, it will be impossible to meet the state requirements of keeping the library open 20 hours per week. Equipment will age, few new books will be available, there will be few funds for online resources, and the library will soon become of little use — not to speak of staffing issues.
The history of the library in Craig spans many years and has been very important to the people in the community. I appreciated the recent letter to the editor that recounted that long history from small rooms to the building we have today, and I have used all of them since the 1940s. It is an American tradition to provide free public libraries for all the citizens of a democracy. I have recently heard that one way to help the funding of the library is to charge for many of the services. That restricts the availability of the library for some economic groups to access the services and defeats the tradition of the “free public library.”
I hope the citizens of Moffat County take the time to think about the value their library has contributed to countless people over many years and what it currently offers too many now. Yes, now there are online alternatives for books and information, but the statistics of the Moffat County Libraries show the libraries are still much used for books and online resources. Libraries are invaluable for children. That is where their love for reading can begin with a wide variety of books on many subjects and information for school projects.
The museum is also a very valuable asset for Craig and draws so many visitors every year. I particularly value the extensive research archives Dan Davidson and his staff have developed on the history and people of Moffat County.