Story #1: A Teacher
Concerned residents of Miami-Dade County are engaged in a fight to save nearly half of its libraries, which are at risk of closure under the County's proposed budget. Should the closures proceed, it would be the largest cut to a public library system in US history. On a rainy Saturday, nearly 300 residents of all ages gathered to support the library system and express their displeasure in the proposed cuts. Given that Mayor Carlos Gimenez has told local media that the "age of the library is probably ending," we have an uphill battle ahead of us.
To support our cause, please sign the online petition, join the #SaveOurLibrary hashtag on Facebook or contribute to the larger #SaveOurLibrary hashtag on Twitter. For more information, visit www.FriendsofMDPL.org
Story #2: A Librarian
In the summer of 2011, the Arcola Branch Library, 49th in the network of 49 neighborhood libraries, opened on the site of an abandoned drive-in movie theater. Forty years of blight was finally replaced with county government's $4.525 million investment in the future of Liberty City. The story below was one of the repercussions of $7.4 million drained from the library system 's 2009-10 budget the year before. The library's money was granted to a list of organizations that provide high end art exhibits and concert series. Taxpayers had no say in the decision that library hours and library programs such as free tutoring were being cut. The 250 library staff affected went quietly. The public, for the most part, only thought that the library system had hours reduced. Here's how it felt for one of the survivors as he prepares to be a victim of the next tidal wave of 169 layoffs. He will be one of our finest who will be told to leave for good. This is his story:
A pat on the back and a kick in the teeth seldom come on the same day. Although the library staff knew they’d be coming close together. We were waiting for them both. But not on the same day. It was supposed to be our day of triumph. We were opening the new library for Arcola Lakes. We had given one of the poorest neighborhoods a state of the art library that would be envy of the richest. They loved it.
The people swarmed this palace of self-improvement filled with brand new books, brand new computers, brand new furniture, brand new everything. In one month we had gone from bare walls and bare floors to this. Soon, we were helping everyone, from hard-working immigrants trying to keep up with USCIS paperwork to young mothers needing advice on helping their child stop struggling with reading. And today was the grand opening.
There was the mayor, the county commissioner, our library director and half dozen other VIPS. Several classes of children from Arcola Lake Elementary came with their teachers. Even my old high school teacher, now a school librarian herself, was there to see it. The speeches were said. The applause, but not the glow from the achievement, faded away. The mayor shook my hand. He shook all of our hands. The VIPs left. Everyone relaxed.
And then they came. They came with the layoff letters:
· A demotion for my manager
· A demotion for me.
· A termination for my new Trainee.
· Transfers for some of the rest.
We were honored for our effort, then scattered to the four winds. All on the same day.
It hurt but until this July I counted myself lucky and felt my fate was hard but someone had thought it necessary to keep the library intact.
The library would go on and I would still able to serve. We would still get the job done. Mine must’ve been the easiest letter to hand out that day. I could live with this. But I was sad for my manager. We had all worked with dogged dedication when things were grim, and with great enthusiasm when they were not. But more than all the rest, she had poured her heart into that library. It was not just a building or a collection. It was seen as an opportunity to affect the future course of the community. She was a great manager. She deserved better. They all deserved better.
So, we took the severe layoffs two years ago with barely a murmur and little public action. And this year, we just cannot. We cannot be silent or silenced.
Because then, as bad as it was, only our own jobs were at stake, and not the library herself. Self-interest is not enough to get a librarian to rally in the streets. This year is different, like night and day. This time they’re gutting the library and stuffing her carcass with empty promises. On the outside the library will look almost the same.
But when people go inside to order a book or ask for computer help they will find that little remains but rags and bones. All too often they will walk up and the doors will simply be closed.
Our county mayor wants to save the “footprint of the library”. A footprint is good to look at but not much else. A footprint is a memory, nothing more.
Story # 3: A Senior
There are NO words to describe my gratitude for being able to READ books via the Miami Dade Library System. The “Connections” service has been and continues being a “life saver” for me! I would probably go crazy were it not for Linda, who usually selects books that are mailed to me regularly! (She has been super wonderful to me!)
I am a senior citizen, living alone and partially disabled. Relying on a computer is NOT comfortable for me. Therefore, reading occupies 99% of my free time, which involves hours, hours and more hours daily!!!
When weather permits, I try to leave my home & using of my walker (a must), I literally push myself to get to the Miami Beach branch library. Once in a while I read so much that I have to go there because I get ahead of reading the books sent to me!
I’m 100% positive that there are hundreds (if not thousands) of seniors who depend upon the library system for reading and relaxation. Not all of these folks are “addicted” to computers. It’s important for us seniors to read in order to keep our brains working
PLEASE, PLEASE do everything possible to insure that our library system remains intact. There are many other ways for this government to save money than to penalize those of us who are in NEED of libraries. Government waste is an issue that is not to be discussed at this writing.
Thank you for your time.
Ms. Natalie S. Greenfield,
Story #4: A Student
Hi, my name is Kevionna Boswell and here is what I have to say about the proposal to defund the public libraries. Please do not close our libraries, even if technology has taken over the world and how we absorb knowledge. We need to think about the kids who don't have technology and whose only resource is to go to the library. There are so many individuals that rely on the public library system to access knowledge and learning experiences. For these reasons, I, Kevionna Boswell, am asking that you keep from defunding the Miami-Dade County libraries.