More than just a place to borrow books
Jun 22, 2010 | 7651 views | 0 0 comments | 247 247 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It won’t be long before we find out just how much money our libraries will lose in funding. Sure, if there needs to be cuts, it’s only fair that everybody shares a bit of the pain. There just isn’t enough money for the city to carry on spending the way it has been.

What’s the big deal about cutting a few hours, days and potentially library branches, to prevent more day care centers, after-school programs and senior centers from closing their doors? Plenty, actually, because the library isn’t just a place to borrow materials and do research anymore; it is a haven that offers programming for people of ages, genders, religions, nationalities, and so on and so forth.

It’s not the ideal situation, but a child whose after-school program was cut can still go to the library and join a book club or get tutoring. A recent immigrant whose immigration center was shuttered can still take ESL classes at the library. A senior whose senior center closed its doors can still watch cultural performances at the library and make new friends by joining a group that meets at the library.

Slash library services and the aforementioned groups will lose even more of their already reduced options. It’s a double cut, if you will. When services are lacking in a community, the library often steps in to fill that void. If the library loses programs, what will they be replaced by?

This is a point that’s not as important in the face of an economic recession, but many of our libraries will have to remain in the 20th century after having enjoyed steady, future-oriented evolution for years. Some libraries now employ advanced microchip technology in a more streamlined checkout and return process, but many branches are still awaiting much-needed upgrades, which will now be put on hold indefinitely. That is, if they can even afford to stay open after the projected funding cuts take effect.

There are a lot of questions here, and not a lot of answers. Hopefully things will be more clear next week, when the City Council should have finalized the budget.

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