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Yelm Timberland Regional Library
Photo courtesy of Guustaaf Damave

On February 3rd, voters were given an opportunity to show their support of public libraries. The Timberland Regional Library system asked voters to approve a ballot proposition to restore funding to TRL, so the quality library services they provide can be continued. The measure was resoundingly defeated in Thurston County, though the final results will not be certified until mid-February.

Official results from the Thurston County Elections site.

The Olympian reports:
“Initial election results from the five counties that encompass the district show the levy-lid lift was failing 55.7 percent to 44.3 percent.

Voters in Grays Harbor, Lewis and Thurston counties were rejecting the measure; those in Mason and Pacific counties were passing it. The measure needs a simple majority of more than 50 percent of the vote to pass.

Election officials still need to count late-arriving ballots mailed or deposited in a drop box by the voting deadline.

‘I wouldn’t believe there’s enough to change the outcome of the election,’ said Michael Crose, the district’s administrative services director. ‘We’ll deal with what the voters have mandated. That was their choice.’

Crose said it’s “highly unlikely” the district will put forth another tax measure for the next several years.

He said the district will immediately begin a planning process to identify key services and programs so budget writers can trim those deemed a lesser priority when the time comes.

Library officials and a critic of the district said the election came down to a single factor: the economy.”

What does this mean for Yelm?
Look for the potential of further cuts here in hours, programs, and resources. This will put further pressure on the City of Yelm to get out of a rented facility, although Timberland’s agreement to continue paying 50% of the rent there expires in mid-2012 anyway, and that 50% would shift to Yelm paying all of the rent. Mayor Harding has already indicated the Library will move back to City Hall, and be greatly reduced in size, saying “we may need to sacrifice some of the current library facility amenities.” He is preparing the public for downsizing & may give some indication of the Yelm Library’s future at his State of the City Address to the Yelm Chamber of Commerce next Tuesday. Let’s hope so, as his vagueness on the subject has been noted.

Truly, the situation in Yelm is very unfortunate and most of the public is not aware that the the current library is not in a public building here and the terrific facility we have come to know will soon be history, because this Mayor, his predecessors and the City Council have done nothing for almost 10 years about getting a public structure for Yelm’s Library, even with a TRL Yelm Library staff member sitting on this City Council. This writer and his wife met with Timberland Foundation officials almost 3 years ago about working to get a group of the area’s large contributors together to fund a public library building, with our donation providing the seed funding. That was widely received by TRL officials, yet fell on deaf ears at City Hall. Don’t be fooled by Timberland’s deficit as the reason Yelm does not have a public library building; for that is the responsibility of the City, NOT Timberland.

This is a sad day for Timberland and for Yelm’s Library in particular, for this facility has been a sparkling jewel, especially for our children !
Mr. Crose said it best, “The other side of it is that people are recognizing that the library is the place to go when you have no other resources.”

Yes, he is right; in a downturn, the library becomes more important, and this city’s officials never put any energy towards that as a priority. That Yelm’s facility will have to downsize back to City Hall is a double whammy on the heels of the TRL voter measure failing.

Posted by Steve on February 4, 2009 at 6:40 am | Permalink

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One comment

  1. Regardless, Lelani, the Library will be downsized here, according to Mayor Harding when the lease in a private building expires in 2012. The City of Yelm will relocate the facility back into the much smaller City Hall space, since they did little in almost 10 years to obtain a public building herein which to operate a Yelm Public Library!

    Comment by Steve on February 8, 2009 at 2:47 pm

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