Orange was selected so the signs would stand out from the traditional red-white-and-blue lawn signs of political candidates during a presidential election campaign.
"We're trying to get more visibility," Alison Cormack, chair of the Measure N campaign, said at Sunday's campaign kick-off on the lawn outside the Main Library.
State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss were on hand to say a few words, as was Firoozeh Dumas, author of "Funny In Farsi" and the more recent "Laughing Without An Accent."
Dumas told a touching story of how, as a recent émigré with her family from Iran, she went to a Palo Alto library for the first time at the urging of her second-grade teacher. She picked out the smallest book she could find, figuring that she could afford it. The concept of a library lending books was new to her.
That's how books and libraries can change lives.
Libraries are akin to churches for many people. The world outside is left behind and voices are muted, out of respect.Virtually everyone in a library is seeking knowledge, a good thing in a changing world.
The campaign for Measure N won't be easy, though.
A similar bond measure in 2002 failed to get the necessary 66.7 percent, weighing in at 61.4 percent.
The bonds would modestly raise property taxes, which some people will always oppose.
The main intent of the 2002 bond measure was to rebuild Mitchell Park Library, which is also the main intent of this year's bond measure ($50.8 million of the $76 million, with $18 million for improvements at the Main Library and $3.8 million for the Downtown Library).
Mitchell, the lone library south of Oregon Expressway, is crowded with young people after 3 p.m. every weekday during the school year.
Rebuilding that library to make it bigger and more comfortable for young students is the best thing that Palo Alto voters could do in caring for the kids who live here.
The debate over Measure N, as stated by people who have made comments on Palo Alto Online's Town Square forum, has revived the old debate over whether Palo Alto should have one central library or continue with five branches, despite the added costs and inefficiencies.
That issue is dead and gone because Palo Altans don't want to give up their neighborhood libraries, even if it doesn't make real sense.
Different city councils, over the last decade, have reaffirmed the five-branch policy.
Both the Redwood City and Mountain View libraries are magnificent, while Palo Altans are figuring out whether to rebuild the sad, old Mitchell Park Library.
Kniss noted that seven of the 10 cities she represents in Santa Clara County have new libraries, while Palo Alto is trying to rebuild a branch library built 50 years ago.
Getting a two-thirds vote is going to be the tough part.
The good news is that the effort may be in better shape than it was in 2002.
Five months before the 2002 election, a poll of Palo Alto voters showed that only 51 percent supported the bond measure. Through the months of campaigning, the effort gained 10.4 percentage points.
This year, again five months before the election, a poll of voters showed that between 63 and 66 percent support the bond measure.
That's why the orange lawn signs are sprouting up.
Cormack said the campaign has gotten $80,000 in campaign contributions, with $120,000 the goal.
One thing the Measure N campaign can't do is take a page from the playbook of the successful school bond measure in June. Then, likely supporters were identified and a massive get-out-the-vote effort was mounted, with hundreds of volunteers making thousands of calls to voters in the last few days before the election.
That can't be done in a general election, with thousands more voters expected to turn out.
"This campaign will get 60 percent of the vote," Simitian said Sunday. "The question is whether it will be get the two-thirds needed."
This story contains 710 words.
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