This morning on the way into work, I was listening to the news on NPR, and they were talking about the inauguration of Rick Scott, Florida’s new governor. They said one of his first acts may be to eliminate the budgets for public libraries in Florida.
This sounded crazy to me, so I looked it up.
And it’s true!
You can find Scott’s Economic Development Transition Team’s proposals here: http://scotttransition.com/Economic_Development.pdf
Check out page 17 of that document and notice that it is labeled “Potential Cost Reductions:
I think looking into the grants and evaluating the role of a library in modern Florida is a great thing. But to do that evaluation as a cost reduction methodology is very wrong.
There Florida Library Association has a good rebuttal to the proposal at http://flalib.org, focused on the value of libraries.
Libraries support modern Florida every day:
helping job seekers
assisting Floridians with e-government business
providing resources to students
encouraging early learning by helping very young children learn to read and helping parents as their child’s first teacher.
This is a good article from the Palm Beach Post.
Librarians contend that library use has skyrocketed since Florida’s economy hit the skids more than two years ago. Patrons are using library computers to search for jobs and apply for benefits because so many government services are accessible online, said Florida Library Association executive director Faye Roberts.
A recent report found that every dollar spent on libraries returns $8.32 to communities, Roberts said. She said evaluating libraries would be a good thing.
This year, I visited the Orange County Public Library many times and read dozens of books. My son used their computer. We checked out films. We did research. We found projects.
And libraries aren’t just about the materials within! The library can serve as a community center. At the library you will find book clubs, computer classes, art exhibits, music programs, storytelling, citizenship classes.
Public libraries are vital parts of the community and the culture.
I hope Rick Scott evaluates the role of libraries in modern Florida and sees their importance and continues to support them, and even finds a way to increase their budgets.