Thursday, September 11, 2008

Library, library, quite contrary

I've heard way too many excuses for Santa Ana's failed library "system", now down to the Main Library and the Newhope Library Learning Center. Apologists point to the housing slump, bleak tax revenue, public safety funding that should override other city services, and on and on. Yes, crime is up. The recent high-profile shootings are horrible. But why can't the city leadership see the direct connection between libraries, literacy, education, and jobs?

A strong library system is a sign of a healthy city. A city council that supports improving libraries - expanding hours, adding services, staffing highly qualified librarians, rehabilitating facilities, expanding libraries, constructing new libraries - is a city council that supports creativity, child development, adult literacy, skill development, gang intervention, safe learning, and employment.

Let's look at the Santa Ana City Council. If the economy is up or down, doesn't matter, the Council has gutted the libraries to fund other priorities. Even the bookmobiles were stripped of their funding! How long do the councilmembers think the current economy will be in the doldrums? They're not even willing to start planning for better times. As long as improving the library system is off the table, we're stuck with another symbol of a sick city.

We need libraries now more than ever.

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