The government of Florida has decided to stop funding libraries. That’s it, that’s all. This means a lot of smaller libraries in smaller towns will have to close, and the ones that are left will have to struggle to survive. This PDF lays it all out for you.
I have a strong relationship with libraries. Always have. My first “job” was a volunteer position as a librarian’s helper in my little town, and I haven’t looked back. Every road I’ve taken, every town I’ve found, I’ve headed to the library. And I’ve watched them change, from dusty book barns to high-tech facilities with computers, DVDs and loudmouthed coffee shop proprietors.
Some libraries are good. Some are great. But they’re all essential. Every single one of them. The big marble-and-pillar jobbers in New York City, and the trailer behind town hall in Dustcluster, Idaho. It doesn’t matter. Libraries are as crucial a part of our communities as running water, electricity and greasy-spoon diners. They aren’t just a place to grab the latest Stephen King; they are the repositories of our knowledge, a place where every mind is equal.
Municipalities bear the largest burden of their funding, but upper levels of government have to pay their share, too. As they should. This is why the idea that a state government would just cut funding to libraries is like a kick in the bag. It makes no sense. In a time when more people need access to information, when people must find work and upgrade their skills without the means to pay, libraries — which belong to all of us — are crucial. Killing them is despicable.
Florida’s finances are in crises. Cuts have to be made. This is a song being played around the world, and I don’t argue that. But libraries, which nibble away at a tiny portion of public funds, offer a massive return. If such things could be measured fiscally. But they can’t. Those returns manifest years, generations later, when the elected officials making the decisions aren’t in play. And that’s sad.
Meanwhile, spending on art for public places in Florida has also been eliminated. From now on, just look at the palm trees.