March 18, 2018

Libraries on the Ballot

Though not attracting the attention focused on the presidential and congressional races, library funding was on the ballot around the country last night.

Among the victorious, Multnomah County, OR, voters approved a permanent financing district for the county’s library system, replacing the previous system of temporary levies. “This wasn’t a narrow victory, it was a resounding victory,” said Jeff Cogen, Multnomah County commission chairman. Also notable, New Mexico approved $140 million in library and school bonds, and Fairfax County, VA, approved $155 million in bonds to renovate libraries, parks, fire stations and courtrooms, and to make storm water improvements. Houston, TX, passed a bond to renovate two libraries and replace two more. Denver, CO, passed a tax hike to extend library hours.

Libraries were particularly popular in Ohio, with levies passed in Toledo-Lucas County (a 45 percent increase in funding), Dayton and Oakwood, Stark County, Pataskala, Grandview Heights, and Guernsey County. Oregon renewed levies in the City of Warrenton, Fern Ridge Library District, and Jackson County. Levies and library taxes also passed in St. Louis County, MO; Rapides Parish, LA; Parkersburg and Wood County, WV; Lafayette Parish, LA; and Peekskill, NY. Funding for new and renovated libraries passed in Poughkeepsie, NY; Mendon, MA; Washington, VT; Crandall, NY, and Farmington Area Library District, IL.

New libraries, however, had a tough row to hoe. Major defeats include Ann Arbor, MI’s $65 million library bond, which went down after an extensive ad campaign against the proposal, according to A bond issue to build a new library failed in Lake Oswego, OR. Also defeated were a sales tax which would have funded a new library in Natrona County, WY, one which would have paid for a new library in Carson City, NV; a tax increase for a new library in Campbell County, KY; a new library in Gladstone, OR, an expansion in Pitkin County, CO, a new library for Casper, WY, and one in Cape Elizabeth, ME. Also defeated were library taxes in El Dorado County, CA and Henderson, NV.


Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz ( is Executive Editor of Library Journal.