Usually, winning voter support for library measures is as easily as snapping one's fingers. But this year, initial public support for a proposed library levy has county leaders biting their nails.

"We're not taking anything for granted," says County Chair Diane Linn, who recently reviewed a private poll testing support for a $135 million, five-year levy headed for the May ballot. Linn declined to provide exact polling results, but she confirmed that roughly 51 percent of respondents said they'd be willing to renew the existing library levy, which expires this year and provides 55 percent of the system's $42 million budget.

Clearly, the county expects an uphill battle, as evidenced by its hiring of M&R Strategic Services, which last year crafted a message for Portland Public Schools' $75 million levy.

Linn is concerned enough that she's already hit the phones to help begin raising the $250,000 needed for a stripped-down campaign. Liz Kaufman, of M&R, says the campaign has received $80,000 so far.