Thursday, May 27, 2010

Please Keep the Libraries


The latest news from the city of Dallas indicates that the city is ready to cut library services and staff to meet a $130 million budget gap. The proposed cutbacks would slash hours at the central library in downtown from 44 to 24 hours a week . Branch libraries could also see a reduction by half, and 96 full-time positions could be lost.

I hope city administration can find a better solution to the budget problems.

When I lived in Omaha, Nebraska, there was a city budget shortfall, and one of the first things administration did was cut library services. I remember thinking how sad it was that children would not be able to go to the library several days a week. For some, the library was the only place they could find books to read.

Then I thought of the people trying to do research. Where were they to go? This was just as the Internet was getting popular, but lots of people still did not have computers. So where did they go to experience this new wonder of wonders? The library.

Libraries are a priceless natural resource and should not be cut. They are our connection to the past, as well as a place to be introduced to books and authors. I buy a lot of books, but I still go to the library to look for something new and different from what I read just for fun, and I know a lot of others who do the same.

To solve the funding problem, one solution would be to charge a minimal yearly fee to get a library card.

Would you be willing to pay $25.00 a year for a library card?

6 comments:

Ann Best said...

Charge a fee if they have to. $25 a year is reasonable. Oh libraries are so wonderful. Yes, you can do research online, but for some a library is a better option. And it's so HUMAN, and humanity is what we need in this fractured world. When we lived in Raleigh for a brief six months, we went to a wonderful library that was so accessible for a wheelchair, and so friendly. Jen has fond memories. This is what libraries create - fond memories.

Maribeth said...

I live in Ohio and things are bad here also. A $25 yearly would keep away those who need the library most.
Even if one has a computer in these times one of the first things to go is internet service. People use the tech services to file unemployment and to apply for work. What would they do?
Our library is working hard to find alternatives to fees and closings.
These are difficult and sad times.

Anj said...

I'm going to have to disagree with one point; libraries are not "a priceless natural resource." There is nothing natural about libraries, which is why animals don't have them. Libraries require work and cultural commitment, and their presence is a mark of civilization. When we cut our libraries, we lose our right to call ourselves civilized.

Whenever the economy sours, library budgets get slashed and services get cut, even though usage skyrockets. When times are tough, the people who get pinched the most turn to the library for help. This pattern has been observed in the current economic downturn and in countless recessions before. It's almost a universal truth. When times are bad, people need libraries more than ever.

While I would be willing and able to pay $25 for a library card, I remain opposed to fee-based public libraries for the exact reasons outlined by Maribeth. I know too many low-income people who rely on public libraries, and for them even $25 would be a genuine hardship.

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks all for the wonderful comments. Very well-made points. I only threw out the fee as one possible way to go. Another might be for city budgets to be cut at the top, not the bottom.

Terry Odell said...

I LOVE libraries. When we moved, I had to wait to get a utility bill to prove I lived here. Our county is small--only two library branches, but I don't know what I'd do without them. It seemed endless. And libraries are so much more than books--they're community centers with so many resources.

Mike said...

Part of me is not surprised by these projected cuts. Most of Dallas is high on style, but with little depth and substance. The one exception to that has been the central library, with its incredibly rich and deep collections in genealogy, Texas history, fine arts, business, government documents, children's literature, and so on (bias note: I'm a former DPL staffer), with talented and dedicated subject experts in these areas to help. I guess the powers that be felt that the library should be gutted so it can be as shallow as the rest of Dallas's cultural scene.

OK - I'll stop bashing Dallas now. When I lived and worked there, though, the impression I got was that most of the monied elite who supported the arts and culture there were more concerned about looking good in front of their neighbors than doing good for the community. There are exceptions of course.

If I keep going, this will be longer than the original post. Thanks for the support of libraries.