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Aloha Community Library turns 3, gets ready to grow up

Fate of November's WCCLS levy election on minds as supporters celebrate birthday this Saturday.

TIMES PHOTO: ERIC APALATEGUI - The Aloha Community Library is preparing to celebrate its third birthday with a little bash from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday. Supporters will celebrating but also looking ahead to the Nov. 3 election, with their library's entry into the Washington County Cooperative Library Services up to voters through a local option levy.At 3 years old, children start to gain a smidgeon of independence and many head off to join their peers at preschool.

At 3 years old, the Aloha Community Library Association is also ready to grow up a bit and join its peers in the Washington County Cooperative Library Services.

The library’s supporters will hold a party for its third birthday this Saturday, but many in the room will be looking ahead six weeks — with fingers crossed — to the Nov. 3 general election, when voters will decide whether to renew the WCCLS local option levy for the next five years.

“Our future really does depend on the vote,” Terri Palmer, the library’s director, said of the opportunity to join WCCLS. “That has always been the overarching goal.”

The levy supports all libraries in the system, including those in Beaverton, Cedar Mill, Garden Home and West Slope.

But nowhere are the stakes higher than for the young Aloha Community Library, located in a small storefront at Farmington Mall. A win at the polls means entry into a system that would give patrons access to the county’s millions of materials and a more diverse slate of programs in their own neighborhood. The library would expand into its nearby annex property, hire more staff and increase its collection.

The proposed levy would increase taxes across Washington County to 22 cents per $1,000 assessed property value, up a nickel per $1,000, which for the average homeowner would tack an additional $14 a year to their property tax bill. That average home has an assessed value (not market value) of $255,408, requiring a total of $56 a year in property taxes to support the county’s libraries beginning next July.

The expiring levy pays for about a third of the county’s WCCLS budget, so without it, many libraries would have to consider cutting hours and services.

The Aloha Community Library Association has been aiming to join the WCCLS from the beginning, patterning itself after WCCLS member Cedar Mill Community Library in another large unincorporated area to the north. Cedar Mill's library leaders have served as mentors for Aloha.

The Aloha organizers and volunteers have put in countless hours organizing and raising money, and this year just narrowly achieved WCCLS’s target circulation level to join, pending outcome of the levy election.

“It’s been a lot more difficult than a lot of people thought,” especially raising money, Palmer said. “It’s only because of the community that we’re here.”

Being a member library should make things easier, not just because of additional funding to expand the operation but also because membership means patrons will be able to check out and drop off books, DVDs, audiobooks and other materials from the entire county collection. Palmer also plans to boost the library’s owned collection, aiming to add more DVDs, audiobooks, graphic novels and so on.

The larger collection, added convenience and additional programs that would come with WCCLS membership are likely to push the Aloha library’s circulation beyond its current levels of 3,000-plus items checked out per month.

But Palmer said that while association members and supporters are “cautiously optimistic” that voters will support the levy, they aren’t sitting back waiting for it to happen. Several supporters are active in the countywide People for Libraries campaign.

Even if the levy passes, there will still be much work ahead. For starters, the Aloha library won’t see any WCCLS funding until the levy would take effect next July, so fundraising will be critical. The association will launch a new campaign Saturday in which anonymous donors have pledged to match up to $15,000 in contributions.

Also, the association will continue governing duties and raising money even after joining WCCLS, because local communities provide a share of support to all member libraries.

The local library also would need to physically and technologically prepare its collection to be accessible throughout the library system before next July.

The Aloha Community Library is located at 17455 S.W. Farmington Road, Suite 25B, Aloha. The annex is around the corner in Suite 26A.

Birthday party

The Aloha Community Library’s third birthday party is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, in the library’s annex area, Suite 26A, next door to the Peppermill Restaurant at the east end of the Farmington Mall.

There will be birthday cake plus a family story time at 11:30 a.m. and a magic show at noon. There also will be crafts, carnival games, a quilt raffle and election campaign activities.

By Eric Apalategui
Beaverton Reporter
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