By Veda Boyd Jones

Globe guest columnist

Here’s the deal. The Joplin Public Library needs your help.

Back in 1902, voters established the library by approving a 10-cent levy per $100 of assessed property value. Today, 104 years later, the library levy is 15.45 cents. It’s no wonder the library is asking voters to raise the levy another dime to make it just more than 25 cents.

In 1902, a dime would buy you a deck of playing cards, a set of dominoes or a baseball. Try buying those items today, and you’d better have a few dollars with you.

In the early years of the library, circulation averaged around 250 items checked out a day. Just last week, a record 2,000 items were checked out in one day and on the day after that. Who knows what the numbers will be next week?

Library users can check out books, magazines, videos, CDs, DVDs, books on tape, books on CD, software, maps, large print books and brochures. Library card holders can access magazine and newspaper articles through databases available at the library or from home computers. The reference department answers more than 100 questions a day for those who can’t find the answers themselves on electronic databases, the Internet or in the large reference collection.

What a deal this is for the community. If voters approve the 10-cent levy increase on Aug. 8, the library will use the money to offset the always-increasing costs of library-bound books, utilities, building repairs and salaries, and will make it easier for working people to use this wonderful facility.

If the voters approve the levy increase, the library will be open more hours. Sunday afternoon is the busiest time at the library, and two more hours would be tacked onto that day. The meeting rooms were used nearly 300 times last year, mostly on Monday and Thursday nights. The library wants to remain open on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, too, which would mean the rooms would be used even more.

But wait, there’s even more to this deal. If the levy is approved, the library will buy more books and materials and provide more programs for all ages. A new book club for adults has formed, and the library hopes for more activities that may include a movie night, outreach for senior citizens, special events for teens, in addition to the many story times offered for young children.

What will this cost? For a home assessed at $80,000, the levy would increase by about $15 a year. That’s $1.25 a month increase, which is the price of a soft drink or a glass of iced tea at most restaurants. That’s less than the price of a fancy cup of coffee.

If the levy doesn’t pass, the library will have to make cuts somewhere, either in hours or services, but let’s not go there. Let’s focus on more hours, more materials, more programs. This is a real deal for the Joplin community.

Veda Boyd Jones, of Joplin, is president of the Joplin Public Library Board.

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