Orcas voters overwhelmingly approve library levy

Orcas Island voters have supported the Orcas Library expansion.

A total of 63.43 percent approved the levy lid lift. It will go from 30.3 cents per $1,000 valuation to 45 cents. A total of 36.57 voted against the measure. The library levy hasn’t been increased since 1987.

The building expansion will provide more space for kids; a teen room; additional quiet working space; two small-group meeting rooms; a dedicated computer area; more space for books; and outdoor patios for reading and Wi-Fi access.

The library board has secured the bulk of the $4.2 million project, which broke ground this summer. They brought in $2 million in private donations; $1.4 million from a state grant and $100,000 from the Friends of the Library. If approved, the levy revenue will allow the district to borrow funds to cover the $700,000 remaining to be raised (debt repayment is $128,000 annually for six years) as well as increase maintenance and operations and restore reserves.

According to the board, because of State Initiative 747, the gap between levy revenues and the cost of library services grows each year. This levy increase will guarantee that basic functions of the library will be reliably funded.

In 2015, the Orcas Island Library ranked third in Washington per capita for the number of items checked out (122,642). It is ranked second for the number of visits (133,340). It has 6,270 cardholders. The library’s volunteer hours came in at 5,275, which is 25x the Washington average.