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Voters say ‘yes’ to new tax levy. After 90 years, Taneyhills Library in Branson gets public funding.

The Taneyhills Library in Branson.
The Taneyhills Library in Branson.

The Taneyhills Library in Branson got its start in 1933 as a volunteer effort coordinated by local women. For decades it thrived on a combination of volunteer work and sales at a thrift store.

But as costs increased in recent years, officials determined their nonprofit funding model wasn’t sustainable. Ten years ago, a ballot initiative to establish a taxpayer-funded public library district failed.

But this year, library supporters asked again — after leaders said the library would shut down by year’s end, without a steady stream of public funding.

On Tuesday it was a nail-biter election as voters in the Branson and Hollister school districts narrowly approved a public library tax levy of 18 cents per $100 dollars of assessed property. Unofficial results showed the tax was approved by just 46 ballots — 50.49 percent to 49.51 percent of the vote.

Marcia Schemper-Carlock is director of the Taneyhills Library.

Just after final results came in Tuesday night, Schemper-Carlock told Ozarks Public Radio, “We overcame a lot of opposition from misinformation, disinformation — and we are thrilled with the results, and we are going to be able to move this library forward."

While campaigning for the new library levy, supporters reassured conservative Taney County voters that their public library would “absolutely not” feature drag queen storytimes and that the government wouldn’t force the library to buy so-called “liberal books and media.”

Long-term, the new library subdistrict’s goal is to develop a larger, better-equipped library center to serve everyone living in Taney County’s two major school districts, regardless of age or income.

Hear more Ozarks election coverage Wednesday, during Morning Edition.

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs.