Library thoughts: survey elicited spirit of cooperation among many

By Tim Morrison

For The Beachcomber

This edition of The Beachcomber includes news of the recently completed survey of Islanders regarding the placement of our new library. I’d like to explain how this survey came about and to thank the people who made it happen.

The survey was conducted under the auspices of the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council.

The ad hoc committee that wrote the survey consisted of people on every side of the library issue.

Some of us favored particular sites for the library, and some were interested in maintaining the library’s role as part of the “town core” as described in the town plan.

Others had no specific stake in the outcome other than to create a vehicle for public input on this important decision, something that the King County Library System has done a meager job at.

K2 developers Dick Sontgerath and Truman O’Brien participated at every step of the process, from the writing of the questions to the drafting of the final report. I was impressed by the way all parties cooperated to create a survey document that was fairly and clearly presented.

Our representative on the King County Council, Dow Constantine, recognized the importance of the survey and provided crucial support. His office paid for the printing and mailing costs and provided information about the survey on his Web site.

The survey was not scientific. It did not involve random sampling, demographic analysis or the other measures necessary to estimate overall public opinion.

The survey did provide an opportunity for public input similar to an election. As with an election, there was a vigorous public discussion leading up to the survey, much of it described in these pages. Every adult voter on the Island received a ballot in the mail, and non-registered adults were provided with a way to vote as well. More than 2,200 ballots were received and counted, an impressive showing of interest in the decision.

Although many hands contributed, the survey would not have been successful without the efforts of Hilary Emmer and Alice Larson. Emmer oversaw the drafting of the survey document, coordinated with Constantine’s office and managed the ballot distribution process. Larson’s professional expertise was essential. She wrote the survey protocol, recorded every ballot and wrote the report.

Both women gave many hours to this project at the expense of their own business endeavors. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

— Tim Morrison chaired the community council’s ad hoc library survey committee.

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