I'm going to try to be as non-political as I can with this post...
As many of you have seen or heard, libraries are once again faced with cut backs and closures. Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library is forced to cut $2 million dollars which will close 12 branches and lay off 148 people, with the possibility of having their budget cut in half next year(article link.) And they aren't the only ones. NJ Public Libraries are also having trouble. And others are suffering as well.
Now I'm not going to argue that libraries are the be all end all, nor am I going to get into the argument over what libraries should and shouldn't be but they are important for many people. They are a way of accessing computers, the internet, finding jobs, keeping in touch, learning, a place out of the cold and rain, and more for so many.
Yes, budgets need to be tightened. Could libraries do without some of the funding they get. Likely they could cut in some places. But should they and education be one of the first areas politicians go too to "trim the fat?" No, it shouldn't be.
The first places that should be cut politicians need to look at themselves. Start cutting your salaries, your extra expenses, start staying at the cheap hotels and fly coach. I'm not saying that this would save the state or city from going into debt, but it would be nice if they led the way in cuts and set an example.
When libraries have to cut their budgets it is devastating for them to be able to catch up again, even after money comes back. At MPOW our book budget was cut 10 or more years ago. We're still playing catch up even now with new money. It's not a criticism or a blame game, its just a fact. When libraries have money cut it means branches and staff close, books and other materials can't be ordered and shared, equipment fails, and programing is cut. Even when money comes back it takes a while to makeup for lost time.
You don't have to agree with me on where budget cuts come from or how to go about saving libraries. But please do help save them. Libraries are important to a community, whether they be public, school, academic, or other. They deserve to live.