Monday, June 22, 2009

A letter from Mansfield

Mansfield/Richland County Public Library children's assistant Amanda Riggans believes the budget news is dire for Ohio libraries. She has sent the following letter to her state senator, Bill Harris, and her state representatives, Jay P. Goyal and Margaret Ruhl. She has shared it here:

Dear Senator Harris, Representative Goyal, and Representative Ruhl:

I am writing because of the horrifically drastic cuts that Governor Strickland is proposing to the Public Library Fund. With only days to go before the state budget needs to be approved, surely this sudden "need" to cut money from the PLF is a shock to so many across the state, including myself. I am a Children's Assistant with the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library and I see first-hand how vital public libraries are to the communities that they reside in. The public library I work for has 9 branches, and each branch serves a distinctly different community, but all are so important to the customers that come into those buildings every day. I just had a mother of four tell me this past Thursday that she feels the public library is the only place where people can get so much for so little. She uses the computers to search for jobs while her children pick out books and movies and sign up for the summer reading program. This woman, a complete stranger to me, looked me dead in the eye and told me she couldn't imagine not having a library in Mansfield, Ohio.

Mansfield, Ohio is a place that has made the news lately; General Motors just announced that they will be closing the stamping plant here, many other businesses and people will suffer because of that. Now the proposal is to take away one of the few resources this community has left...the public library. Do you realize that if this budget cut passes that many libraries will not survive? Jobs, resources, a safe place for children to go to in the summer and after school, where people can search for jobs and find the help they need in a time of economic crisis....public libraries mean all this, but most importantly, they are one of the few places left where people have FREE access to knowledge and education. Libraries don't care what aspect of life you come from; the doors are always open to anyone. And now Governor Strickland wants to take that away from the state of Ohio.

This budget cut to the PLF CANNOT GO THROUGH. It will ruin communities across the state. The Governor says these cuts are needed to stabalize the economy and budget in Ohio. It sounds to me like he's trying to take the path of least resistance, thinking that no one will care if the libraries are shut down. If any of you have ever set foot in a public library, I do not need to tell you how important these places are to their customers. Article after article has been written about the importance of public libraries in a time of economic downturn, and now the Governor wants to, effectively, shut them down. If he believes this will help the state of Ohio, he obviously has no idea what libraries do for their communities. I can't propose to tell you where budgets need to be cut in order to save the libraries, but something must be done to stop the Governor's proposal. Libraries are not just houses of books and movies and computers...we are strongholds of the community. In one day at my job, I can sign up fifty children for the summer reading program, answer thirty reference questions on every topic imaginable, help a parent look for a job to support his/her children since they were just laid off and help educate young minds--all in an eight or nine hour period. And I go home at the end of the day and I know, without any doubt, that I have helped so many people because I am part of an organization that cannot be replaced in the community.

Please tell Governor Strickland that these budget cuts are a gigantic mistake and if these pass, it will desecrate the state of Ohio. If things look bad now, they will look far worse without the public libraries to help people in a time of need.

Amanda Riggans


I agree with Amanda. Many of you do as well. This morning meetings are being held at libraries across the state, including one at my own library in Euclid. There has never been a more important week in Ohio library history than this one. Please make sure people know what's at stake.

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