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New read on funding cuts

June 26, 2009
Morning Journal News

Anyone who has ever been a regular patron of a library still has fond memories of quietly stepping into that cool, serene atmosphere and inhaling the pleasant aroma of books.

Unlike any other place on Earth, the library can offer readers a free quiet respite from the rest of the world, and create the experience of traveling anywhere without ever leaving town.

Perhaps because so many of us have treasured our hours in the library and have benefited from the many services offered by this fine institution, the cuts in library funding being considered in the Ohio budget have been met with such vocal opposition.

Everyone is aware of the need to cut back on publicly funded services during the current recession.

Cuts in funding for everything from libraries, to parks, to early childhood education programs and other social service programs, are among those being discussed by the governor and the state legislature in an attempt to balance the budget by June 30.

Legislators need to come up with $3.2 billion in cuts or additional revenue to close the funding gap caused by the continued decline in state tax revenue due to the recession.

While an argument can be made against cutting any of the programs being targeted, the very existence of libraries may be at stake if their funding is cut any more. Libraries already have endured a 20 percent state funding cut earlier this year. An additional 30 percent cut, as being proposed, may cause some libraries to close their doors.

During the recession, library services are needed even more. Offering free books and movie rentals helps keep families entertained and informed as they struggle through hard times. The use of free computers and Internet access may help the newly unemployed compile resumes and search job sites in an effort to get new positions.

Even in good times, libraries help level the playing field between rich and poor students and rich and poor school districts. It's no secret that people who read do better in school, and education is the best route out of poverty.

The library provides ways for those needing help to help themselves, not just line up for another handout.

We hope state officials will find another avenue to make up the anticipated budget deficit, rather than expecting libraries to survive another funding loss.



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