Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Library

I am feeling very political today. I found out this morning that Governor Ted Strickland's proposed budget for 2009-2011 includes cuts to many, many worthwhile and vital Ohio programs.

The ELI (Early Learning Initiative) will be eliminated. There will be cuts to mental health funding. Physically and mentally handicapped individuals will not receive as much aid as they currently do. It sickens me that the people who need help the most are the people who are losing the small amount of help they already have.

One issue stuck out as directly affecting me and my family is the 50% cut to the Public Library Fund. This would cause many libraries to close, cut hours, cut programs. We attended a program today and the librarian told us they already have a book buying freeze. This cut would eliminate way more than just new books.

I emailed the Governor, my representatives and the budget committee members. I also emailed the director of the Toledo Lucas County Library to see if there are any plans for a rally to bring more attention to this issue for those who don't know what is going on.

The budget needs to be finalized by June 30. There is only seven days to make your voice heard, so email or call if you feel strongly about this.

In case you are curious, this is the email I sent. Usually, when I write about issues I send form letters. I'm lazy like that, and it's all politicians do in return anyway. This time, I actually wrote my own letter. Must be a special cause to me, eh?


I am saddened to hear of the proposed cuts to the Public Library Fund in the Governor's 2009-2011 proposed budget. I understand that cuts need to be made somewhere, but I feel strongly that this is not the place to make them. The library system is not a luxury, an extra piece of fluff that can be cut out. The library is important to many people for many reasons, myself and my family included.

With the economy in the state that it is, our state can not afford more job loss. Our unemployment rate is nearing 11%. It is at the highest point since October 1983. Cutting funding to the PLF would not only add to the unemployment in our state, it would also limit access to necessary resources for those who are already unemployed to look for work, including the Internet and resume writing materials.

The library system is important to families. I have a four year old daughter who is already reading. If not for the story times, programs and reading materials available to her, I do not think she would be this advanced. Being summer, a loss of programming would hit us especially hard. While I am lucky enough to have my husband gainfully employed, times are still tough for us. The library affords us the opportunity to attend programming that is both fun and educational without taking money away from our budget. Just today, we attended a program at the Sylvania Library which kept her entertained and out of the ninety degree heat. She absolutely loved it and is ready to go back next Tuesday to see what the new program is.

I realize making a state budget is hard work. I realize there are cuts that need to be made. Please don't make those cuts to our library system. Libraries are not a luxury - they are a necessity. Don't take this valuable resource away from our families.

Thank you,
Jamie Ritchie

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