The library crunch
Published in the Ocala Star-Banner, In Your Opinion, June 28, 2015
It is indeed remarkable that to reduce funding for our fine library system reflects the County Commission’s credulity that Marion patrons would not vociferously react to an appreciable benefit loss. Well, emphatically it has. Rightfully so. Enough is enough.
This proposal is greater than the past reductions — this time breaking the camel’s back and obviously making our libraries the usual stepchildren in setting the county budget.
To define a library as only a repository of books is oblivious in this modern day. It has evolved as a public institution of expanded learning in terms of materials, machines, a flurry of activities and a plethora of enrichments.
To set a factual perspective, our county libraries are no longer places just to borrow books and provide research materials, but now assume the character and role of community centers — serving an expanded public base. Thus, the swath of outreach has been broadened to afford a whole host of events, resources and activities — namely, computer banks, feature films, civic presentations, lectures and sundry others to attract, enhance and increase attendance as much as fourfold from our wider community.
And also, in the wider scope, our libraries are a major criterion in assessing the quality of life in our county.
Our Dunnellon library maximizes these new dimensions, and visitors have responded dramatically in recent years. Thus, curtailments, such as the reduction of personnel and hours of service, all serve to egregiously affect the library/community center experience.
Therefore, I demand the commissioners rethink these cuts. Reduced library funding is a critical matter. This writer has surveyed local sentiments, and the overwhelming response is that the proposed cuts may likely become a ballot-box issue.