Written by Librophile – Thanks

Most of the arguments made by the pro-annexation group involve throwing around numbers, and I feel compelled to try and clear up several points.

It’s almost impossible to compare in a logical manner Renton’s operating budget of $1.8 million to KCLS’s budget of $90 million, or the number of Renton staff (38) to the number of KCLS staff (1200). It’s like comparing apples to …….overdeveloped grapefruit (which, like KCLS, also becomes flavorless once it gets too big). What these numbers fail to point out is that the much smaller budget and staff numbers for Renton are concentrated in only 2 branches, and for KCLS those numbers can get pretty watered down once they are spread thinly over 44+ branches. So this kind of comparison is, well, fruitless!

The pro-annexation group also often compares the number of items available in the two systems. Renton currently holds 190,000 items versus KCLS’s 4 million items. What this comparison fails to point out is that those numbers are referring to individual items not the SELECTION of different items. Renton has a very strong collection of both popular as well as esoteric books, movies, music, magazines, and more. Renton doesn’t have to acquire hundreds of copies of the SAME title to satisfy the number of patrons it serves. KCLS provides more COPIES of the EXACT SAME ITEMS because they serve so many more citizens countywide. After all, they are the “3rd busiest public library in the United States.” Although, I personally don’t see that as a strength. Is bigger really better? Don’t we just become a faceless number when we become part of institutions that big? Oh, and I think it’s been mentioned before, but it’s worth repeating, the wait time for hold requests
and new books is infinitely better with Renton. And the best part is, if Renton doesn’t have it, they can get it for their patrons either via Interlibrary loan or by fulfilling a purchase request for the library.

The pro-annexation group also likes to point out how the Renton Library is “completely outdated,” and “can’t compete with KCLS.” Well, there is no argument that the buildings are outdated (and Renton residents will have to pay out of pocket to replace those regardless of which way the vote goes), but the services and materials at Renton are most definitely not outdated. Renton provides many of the same technologies and programs as KCLS branches. They provide programs for all ages, including children’s program, adult programs, and all ages programs. They also have an outreach librarian for services to Homebound, daycares, and senior centers. They provide Internet computers, free Wi-Fi, as well as online research databases (including some that KCLS does not provide), and they will be providing downloadable audio books in the near future through a partial grant provided by the Washington Library Association.

As the article in this month’s Renton Magazine says, Renton Libraries may surprise you.