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November 28, 2014
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editorial

Libraries: too important to fail


Most people would agree that libraries are a significant asset and vital resource in any community. They supply invaluable services: promote literacy education, present public programs and workshops on just about every subject under the sun, offer technology training and provide critical Internet access, (especially important for those who cannot afford to own a computer or other smart device). Libraries help people, including those who are applying for jobs, doing homework, getting information about health care, finding out about government benefits and managing their finances.

Libraries make our lives better and our communities better places. Libraries are a gathering place for educational, social, civic and cultural engagement. Libraries are a refuge, a place for personal growth and reinvention. Libraries foster social equality and are a tool of democracy. Libraries are filled with knowledge just waiting to be learned.

We urge the Pike County Commissioners to reach an accommodation with the two Wayne County libraries. It is simply a matter of fairness that Wayne County taxpayers and citizens should not have to carry the burden for providing these essential services to so many Pike County residents.

We urge the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to find other places to cut funds and to again increase funding for libraries. Austerity may have its place, but when it comes to basic community institutions like libraries, austerity must also have its limits.

We salute Wayne County commissioners for proposing to increase library funding in the coming year.

We urge every Wayne County and Pike County resident with a library card to lobby for better library funding at the state, county and municipal level, because libraries are a smart investment in our future. Being quiet about budget cuts for libraries is implicit approval.

Studies show that during challenging economic times, library usage rises. Therefore it only makes sense that when demand for libraries and their services is increasing, they need to be able to meet the demand without fear of having to close the doors.

Before there were public libraries, book collections were the province of colleges and universities, and of wealthy individuals—those who could afford to own private collections. Public libraries changed that. Public libraries are the great equalizer in a democracy. Access to information and knowledge must remain free and open to all. Libraries must remain adequately funded.