As a resident of Troutdale, a parent of two small children and a library teacher for 500 students at Sweetbriar Elementary in Troutdale, I know how important libraries are for kids, schools, families and our entire community.

Libraries are important partners to our schools. They provide reading programs to children, homework help and after-school programs that help kids succeed. Furthermore, libraries are invaluable resources for families. With the costs of raising children, having free access to books, magazines and learning materials can make a real difference to a family. Libraries also provide free access to information and learning for everyone. For people who can't afford other education opportunities, libraries can change their lives.

My dream has always been to have a library branch in Troutdale. Many parents and community members I have talked to echoed this wish. After checking into the history and probability of Troutdale attaining a library branch, I discovered that there was indeed potential. I remember coming home from an Oregon coast camping trip and looking through my stack of old newspapers for the week and thinking, 'I can't believe it!' There on the front page of the paper was an article about the upcoming library levy. It said that renewing the library levy would provide funding for new libraries in underserved neighborhoods - and one of those neighborhoods is Troutdale!

The location will be decided after the library levy is approved by voters. I have talked with those involved who have stated that once the levy passes, a committee will be formed to decide on location and other details, and that the voices and ideas of our local citizens will be heard and included in this decision. In the meantime, it's up to us to make sure the levy is renewed.

Why should we renew this levy? Several reasons: first, the levy provides more than half the library's funds; second, we have one of the best and most cost-efficient public library systems in the entire country, and we all benefit from keeping it that way. That includes keeping the Gresham and Fairview libraries open with the hours and programs we rely on today; finally, Troutdale and the furthest ends of eastern Multnomah County would receive a much more convenient branch. This library could serve as an economic anchor for surrounding businesses since it would draw many people to its location on a regular basis. Troutdale simply can't afford to miss this opportunity.

Every time I step into any Multnomah County library branch, magic happens for me. I feel a real sense of community. I see people of all ages and from many walks of life pursuing their interests with all the library has to offer. Stories, how-to books, history books, travel books, atlases, poetry, plays, books-on-tape, music CDs, videos, language tapes, Internet access, picture books and novels for children, story times, reference librarians there to answer questions, art books, reference books, science books, books in many other languages and a copy machine. I rarely have to pay for books. I rarely rent movies. I usually have more than 100 items checked out at any one time for home and school. What a deal! The only thing that would better is if I could walk there.

Please join me in voting yes for our libraries on Measure 26-81. It's worth every penny.

Tricia Snyder is a resident of Troutdale.

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