As people across the city are learning of the library’s budget challenges, stories of the library’s community importance are coming forward. In these hard economic times anyone walking into a branch library can see more people using the computers or plugging in their laptops. In fact all aspects of library service are up at least 10% over last year. Friends of The Library members who participated in the petition drive that wrapped up on Sunday, April 19, heard many stories about the particular ways patrons use their libraries. In this testimony, library supporter and freelance artist, Kevin Wildermuth, tells Councilmembers how the library is important in his life and the lives of people he met outside Douglass Truth.
“I’m a freelance photographer and web designer working out of my home not far from the Douglass-Truth branch. I rely on the library for many of the books that I read to stay competitive in my business. They are expensive and it’s helpful to have access to those that I don’t buy.
I am concerned about the library budget and that’s why I’m here today and why I was on the sidewalk in front of my library last week collecting signatures for this petition. I was gratified with how easy it was. Everyone signed without hesitation, few refused, and I collected 47 signatures within an hour and a half. People from all walks of life really appreciate and rely on their libraries. I’d say we consider it an essential government service.
I talked to mothers with small children, a city attorney, high school students, job-seeekers, all kinds of people. One patron said that the library system was key to his faith in government. One woman told me that she believes money spent on libraries is leveraged to help people more than almost anything the government does.
People love their libraries. So I urge you to continue to preserve funding when you deliberate the budget in the fall so that we have the staff, the hours, and the acquisitions budget to serve these patrons and all the others that I did not get to talk to.”