Keep the Camas library independent

During the upcoming Monday, Jan. 4 Camas City Council workshop, the city’s elected leaders will discuss a proposal for the Camas Public Library to join the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District system.

Officials say the move to at least talk about the issue comes following the departure of former Library Director David Zavortink. He retired on Oct. 2, after 20 years at the helm, making this a natural time to consider how the library will look and function during the next two to three decades.

It’s an issue that has come up before, and always ended with the same answer: Keep Camas independent.

It’s not difficult to see why.

The Camas Public Library is beloved in this community. It’s not simply a place to house books, magazines and periodicals. It is that, and much, more. It’s a location where all generations gather to gain knowledge, explore the world, and interact with and engage each other. It’s many activities and events are tailored to the wants, needs and interests of Camas citizens. This community loves its library.

If it were annexed into the Fort Vancouver Regional Library, the Camas facility would likely continue to offer quality services and programming to citizens. However, its operation would be put into the hands of an entity completely separate from the city, with the ability to control programming and, maybe more importantly, funding.

Current information indicates that the benefits to joining FVRL would be rather minimal. There would be some access to new resources, but to a large degree Camas library card holders already have that through an inter-local agreement. In addition, the cost to Camas taxpayers is reported as being neutral — it would not cost them more, and it would not cost them less.

In the end, for the public to really buy-in to the idea that Camas should annex into the FVRL system city leaders would need to demonstrate a very significant cost savings coupled with major benefits as far as programming and access to materials and other resources.

Up to this point, that threshold has not been met. The Camas Public Library should remain independently owned and operated by the city.