Another budget year and another disappointment for our library system and its patrons. Our county officials’ spending on website redesign and an energy study, with unused results, instead of providing funding needed to take county agencies off of furlough toes the line of malfeasance, a word I learned from a children’s picture book that I read at my library (“Olivia and the Fairy Princesses” by Ian Falconer).
There’s no better way to shortchange every person in your community, infants to the elderly, than to inadequately fund your local public libraries. The library provides more services than many people know, from preschool story times to books by mail for shut-ins.
There are people in the community who would say that we don’t need libraries. People can just go buy books, download them or use Internet at home. Those people are fortunate to have enough disposable income that they don’t need library services with the same urgency that other people do. That will wait until the home printer breaks just before a job interview, with a resume queued up.
Families cannot afford to buy all the books they want or need. All kids need to read and to be read more books than anyone has in their own home; 1,000 books before kindergarten is recommended. I could cite studies that show children who are surrounded by reading materials read more often and with more skill; data that show children who read on grade level are less likely to end up in correctional facilities and instead become adults who make positive contributions to society; quotes from people who’ve changed the world and credited their libraries with helping them to do it.
Go visit your library. Visit the website and see what’s available to you as a resident and taxpayer in Hall County. Ask your librarian. Another opportunity to support funding for libraries is hopefully coming soon in the form of SPLOST funding for renovations and books, which is sorely needed, but don’t forget the need for funding that can be used to keep the doors (and book drops) open when the discussions for next budget year come around.