Editors note: in response to recent news and controversy concerning the Great Falls Public Library’s requested mill levy, Molly Beck, Chair of “VoteYes For Our Library”, submitted the following information to E-City Beat. We will be presenting all sides of the library mill issue.
The Great Falls Public Library is at a crossroads. The library is operating at the minimum Montana State Library Association standards and yet continues to be in a financial deficit. The community values the library, but it is not adequately supported to provide the quality library services that our growing community deserves.
Great Falls Public Library provides an essential community service!
The Library Provides Access: Libraries level the playing field. As a cornerstone democratic institution, people of every age, income, location, ethnicity, and physical ability are provided the full range of information resources needed to live, learn, govern, and work.
The Library Builds Community: Libraries are community hubs. They connect people to information and connect people to people. They are safe havens for kids and families. They offer computers and internet, allowing everyone to stay engaged in a digital world. Library bookmobiles and community outreach programs help those living in remote areas and those who are homebound to remain connected to the world.
The Library Promotes Literacy: Libraries are committed to helping children and adults develop the skills needed to survive and thrive in a global information society. Access to reading and resources improves the quality of life for everyone.
The Library Protects Our Freedoms: Libraries are advocates for everyone’s rights to read and think. Libraries protect the right to privacy and free speech.
Great Falls Public Library Goals
Continuing and expanding early literacy and after-school programs for children and parents: This will result in more children starting school ready to read and more parents empowered to be their child’s first teacher.
Expanding homebound services and programming for people who are disabled and seniors: This will result in decreased isolation and loneliness for seniors and persons with disabilities, increased access to social and recreational resources for those most in need, and improved health for seniors and persons with disabilities.
Providing computer and technology classes and expanding support for job seekers: This will result in increased workforce participation and improved placement for job seekers.
Providing a college readiness program for teens that includes literacy programs, test preparation, and application assistance: This will result in improved graduation rates and college acceptance rates.
Proposed Mill Levy
To accomplish the above goals and allow for sustainable services, the Great Falls Public Library Board has requested an increase of 15 mills. If passed, this levy will increase the annual tax on a $100,000 home by approximately $20.25 ($1.68 a month), or $40.50 on a $200,000 home ($3.38 a month).
Great Falls Public Library is currently funded at $19 per capita. Median library funding in Montana is $31 per capita, with a high end over $50. The proposed mill levy funding would bring the library to a state average level of $32.