Libraries may need tax district to survive

Friends of the Murray Hill Library Missy Jackson, vice president, and Helen Kamps-Stewart, president

By Abigail Wright
Resident Community News

Nearly 26,000 signatures are needed on a petition by Fall 2013 to put a straw ballot for an independent library district on the polls in 2014. According to Dr. Laura Lane of the Jacksonville Community Council, Inc. (JCCI), the purpose of the poll is to allow residents the opportunity on a future ballot to choose a tax district for libraries in Duval County.
Dr. Lane spoke at the annual Friends of the Murray Hill Library meeting at the Edgewood Bakery on Feb. 19, to share the JCCI’s belief that the Jacksonville Public Library must have operational control and contends that the best way to accomplish that is to follow the example of Alachua and Orange counties which have proven attainable structure in stability and momentum within their districts.

Missy Jackson, Vice President of FMHL, shared a history of the Jacksonville Public Library. “Lifelong enrichment starts here,” said Jackson, who expressed a love for reading and encouraged more use of the library system. Her presentation showed that more than 165,000 children and teens attended a program sponsored by the Jacksonville Public Library; that’s nearly all the youth in Duval County. Enthusiasm like that for the library and learning in general are essential to keeping the library alive and
operational.

Still, efforts to sustain the system need to be made. Dr. Lane suggested that a library district is able to provide better stability in local libraries through an independent tax district. “The goal is to establish independent funding and governance within an independent tax district without increasing the millage cap,” she said.
Petitions can be picked up now at the Murray Hill Library and signed petitions will be collected in Fall 2013 at early-voting library locations and at polling locations on Election Day,
Nov. 6, 2013.

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