Libraries forced into silence

By Corinne Love / Opinions Editor

Shelf Life (Wikimedia Commons)

By Corinne Love / Opinions Editor

Southern California’s public libraries are feeling the chokehold of California’s financial difficulties.

Cities like Colton, Ventura and Palm Springs public libraries are all facing major budget cuts which in turn, is slashing back library hours and even shutting them down.

 This budget cut is happening at a time, when because of economic hard times, many libraries are experiencing a surge of users.

Libraries have long been sacred grounds for finding books for children, copy machines and internet access.

The idea of closing them is beyond silly, it’s ghastly.

Libraries might not be the most happening place to be on a Saturday night, but many people can recall when a library was there when they needed it.

Families, students, instructors and the everyday person all come to depend on libraries for one need or the other.

Due to the economic slump, many people have reduced costs in every aspect of their lives.
Instead of buying the latest paperback novel, such as Sarah Palin’s novel “Going Rogue,” a library patron could check out the book, without handing out the $20 to $25 for a hardcover.

If I were even remotely interested in reading Palin’s book, I would undoubtedly check it out free of charge from a library.

Not only do libraries allow patrons the opportunity to “test drive” many new books before committing to buy them, historically, libraries are research centers.

Students from almost every educational level, come to a library to search reference books, internet access and periodicals that may not be available at the school library.

More recently, people have been using libraries for personal matters.

Matters such as copying and faxing documents.

The Los Angeles Times reported that many people have been using the services to assist with finding jobs.

It was also reported that 17 million people used a public library in California this year.

One would think with all the benefits that the library obviously offers, cutting hours and shutting down the doors would just be backwards.

However, counties can no longer afford to keep some libraries open.

In Ventura, the state funding for its public libraries dropped from $1.1 million in 2000, to $149,000 this year, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

That’s a dramatic decrease in funding.

With such a decrease in funding, many libraries have probably pulled back their intake of new books.

A trickle down effect, this could mean that public libraries will have to be much more selective in which books make it to shelves.

Across the board, libraries are cutting staff, using more volunteers and having patrons using self check out services.

In Colton’s case, deciding to close the library was an action that needed to be taken.
Even if it is an action that needed to be taken, it still seems  like a last resort.

Perhaps patrons have taken their libraries for granted, in assuming that they will always be there. Citizens however aren’t idly waiting for a reply though.

As of Dec.1, the Colton public library, through the outpour of community opinion, re-opened.

Yet there are significant drawbacks.

The library is now open six days a week.

The Homework Assistance and Adult Literacy programs that were available have now been removed.

California is in a financial clout, and of course cutbacks need to be made.

However, it’s a bit tiring that the first services to be cut are the ones that the community needs.