04 July 2009

Libraries are important places

The Governor of the Great State of Ohio has a proposed budget on the table in Columbus.

I like to think of myself as an idealist, and that people who seek and hold public office actually have a desire to serve the public.

Oh, how cute and sheltered, eh?

Ted Strickland was elected as governor on a platform of education, and a whole lot of other things that I like lots. He's pro-choice, which was enough to get my vote.

His proposed budget cuts the funding for libraries in Ohio an additional 30%. This is AFTER the libraries have already had a 20% budget cut. So Ohio libraries, which have always been tax-funded, would operate the next fiscal year at 50% of the budget from last fiscal year.

This is quite the 180 degree turnaround from his election promises. Sad.

I've never made a secret of the fact that I don't like living in Ohio. I'd flee in an instant if I could. I have a bad case of Anywhere But Here, and I think I'd trade living in a shoebox for living in Ohio. (Most days, anyway.) One of the ONLY things I have ever been proud of about the Buckeye State is that we have some of the nation's best libraries.

Free. It does not cost you one red cent to get a library card, anywhere in the state.

Filled with books and DVDs and videos and CDs and books on tape. Want to read a new bestseller? The public library in your small podunk Ohio town will have it. Need a manual for your 2003 Honda Civic? The public library has that too. Textbooks, cookbooks, self-help, biographies, non-fiction books about anything you can imagine. If they don't have it, they can get it for you from an inter-library loan.

Seventy percent of Ohio's libraries are entirely funded by the fund the good ole gov wants to cut. The other thirty percent have local levies or other sources of income in addition to the state funding.

The planned cuts will mean mass closures of branches throughout Ohio's 251 branch system. In the two counties that I live and work in, every branch except the two "mains" will be closed. That means the public library in your small podunk Ohio town won't be there. All bookmobile services, which provide books to shut-ins and places where there are no branches, will disappear. Ohio's libraries have Internet-capable computers, assistance with writing resumes and business plans, and the majority of the genealogy research for the state.

This spending plan is a disaster, and devastating, too.

I know librarians in both counties. But my passion about this cause is NOT because my two friends would likely lose their jobs. (Sorry, guys. Not that I don't love you. I do. I would hate for you to be unemployed.) It is because the library has played such a vital role in my life.

I can afford to buy most of the books I want to purchase. I have high speed internet at home. I know how to write a resume. But there are people in this state who can't or don't. Libraries help to close the digital divide. Libraries serve the entire population, not elitist snobs, and not just those at the bottom of the food chain either. They're equalizers.

If you're reading this in Ohio, please go to Save Ohio Libraries and do what you can to show our elected morons officials that cutting library funding is unacceptable. Use your right to speak up, today especially.

1 comment:

Ama said...

Where's the Facebook "like" button when I need it?