If you love the Phoenix libraries, vote no on Prop. 106

August 2, 2019 1:57 pm

Burton Barr Central Library. Image by Cygnusloop99 | Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Every day, thousands of Valley residents use a Phoenix public library. As President of the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library, I’m asking for your help to keep Phoenix libraries open by voting no on Proposition 106 in the Aug. 27 City of Phoenix special election.  

Prop. 106 would restrict library funding and freeze restoration of hours of operation at the 17 Phoenix public library locations. It requires that the public safety pension would need to be at the 90% funded level before allocating additional money to other city services, such as libraries and parks. 

The results would be disastrous for our library system and risk major cuts to the programs that improve our quality of life.

As a public safety retiree, I understand the importance of funding the pension. However, there is already a plan in place to pay down pension debt while still providing essential services to city residents, and to do so without restricting library funding.

When a library is closed, children miss out on free after-school meals through Kid’s Café, a grant program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture administered by the Arizona Department of Education. The meals – 21,000 served during fiscal year 2018 – are accompanied by a Friends-funded educational enrichment program presented by Library staff.  

Through College Depot, more than 11,000 people received assistance in completing high school equivalency, college admittance and financial aid applications during the past fiscal year.

Additional library programs such as Preschool Prep and Kindergarten Bootcamp focus on skills needed for a successful school experience. You can learn to run your own startup and find grants at The Hive. Grow your own garden through the Seed Library, learn how to fix your bike, make a robot, pet a snake and enjoy a concert. 

Want to visit a museum? Library card holders can check out an Act One Culture Pass for free admission for two to participating museums.

The Friends of the Phoenix Public Library nonprofit was established in 1977 to promote, enhance and expand the library for the benefit of the community. We raise money to supplement these, and many more, programs and services. 

We also advocate for funding our libraries.   

Before 2010, all 17 Phoenix library locations were open daily. Recession-era budget cuts resulted in reduced days of operation. In 2010, the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library successfully led this community in fighting the outright closure of 6 of our libraries. In 2012, we won restoration of evening hours for the 8 busiest libraries in our system. 

While hours are slowly being restored, we still have work to do. Want to visit your neighborhood library on a Monday? Eight locations are closed.  How about a Friday? A different seven library branches are closed.

Through our Every Library Every Day campaign this year, the City Council approved restoring Sunday hours to the remaining 4 libraries that had been closed for two days in a row.   

Our system-wide library hours still remain lower than they were 10 years ago, and lower than other major library systems similar to Phoenix.  Prop. 106 would only make the recovery even more difficult.

Restricting library funding will immediately, and for a long time, jeopardize the strength and vibrancy of our communities. Prop. 106 will lead to cuts in services for children, seniors, and those most in need.

Please stand with us as we continue making progress to increase access to our Phoenix libraries by voting no on Prop. 106.

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Sue Soto

Sue Soto, the President of the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to support programs across the Phoenix library system. Sue is an Arizona native, and was introduced to the Phoenix Public Library as a child; she still has fond memories of participating in the summer reading program. She has volunteered for Friends of the Phoenix Public Library for more than two decades and has been on its board since 2010.