OGDEN -- About 50 Weber County residents spent Wednesday evening at the Weber State University Alumni Center hearing about all aspects of the proposed Weber County Library Bond vote that is going on now by mail and on June 25 -- the day when voters can go straight to the polls to vote.
The forum was sponsored by the Olene Walker Institute, based out of WSU, to help educate the community about the bond and how it will affect residents, said Carol McNamara, director of the institute.
She was impressed with the turnout and the information that was given and discussed. The Friends of the Library approached McNamara about sponsoring the event so it could reach another group that would be voting.
"We want to facilitate civic discussion," McNamara said. "I think we did that here tonight."
If approved, the $45 million general obligation bond will increase taxpayers' property taxes $13.50 annually, based on a $161,000 home.
Those in attendance heard presentations from John Sillito, a professor and historian from Weber State University; Lynnda Wangsgard, Weber County library director; Dan Olsen, comptroller for Weber County; and Ricky Hatch, the Weber County clerk auditor.
Both Wangsgard and Sillito talked about the need for libraries, but Wangsgard focused on the need for libraries in the Weber County area and the need for the bond, which if passed would facilitate the building of a brand-new southwest branch, an addition to the north branch and a complete renovation of the Ogden main branch.
All three libraries are below capacity for the amount of traffic they have. The Weber County Library system has seen a 10 percent increase in use in recent years, Wangsgard said.
Olsen talked about the logistics of the bond and said Weber County has an excellent bond rating, which means better bond rates for the county. Residents would see only a $7.50 increase per year until 2016 and then an additional $6.00 increase for 18 more years, he said.
Hatch talked about the vote-by-mail process -- a first-time process for Weber County voters. The vote-by-mail is already seeing great success. Mail-in votes have only been coming in for three days and voter turnout is already at 8 percent -- the same rate for the overall 2010 primary election.
Hatch said residents can choose to mail in votes -- registered voters should have received packets by now -- or they can go to any of six polling locations to drop off ballots. Residents can also vote on June 25 at those same locations. For polling locations, visit http://www.co.weber.ut.us and click on the library bond vote link.
Those attending the forum asked a few questions. Some wanted to know how the library would handle the extra flow of students who would need assistance because of Ogden School District's decision to stop staffing licensed media specialists. Wangsgard said the libraries do expect more students because of the district's decision, and the staff will be happy to help, but she said the librarians may not have the expertise needed to help students with the wide range of questions that would be asked. Students will never be turned away, however.
Nancy Crocker teaches at Northpark Elementary School in Roy and came to the forum because she wants to do anything she can to see that the library bond gets passed. She told the crowd that about one-third of her students do not have the Internet in their homes, so the library is an important resource for them. She sees the need for a new southwest branch because the current branch is simply not big enough or easy to access.
"I want my students to have 21st-century resources," Crocker said.
Wangsgard said 344,000 half-hour Internet sessions are allocated at the library this year, and more money would help add more computers and meet the growing needs of people to access the Internet.
No one at the forum spoke up against the bond.