With the economy in the tank and people looking for ways to save money yet still enjoy summer activities, its no wonder area libraries are exploding with activity.
Yet it would be a terrible shame if our public libraries were forced to cut their programs, severely reduce their hours or worst of all, close completely.
This, however, is what all of the libraries in the state of Ohio will be facing if Governor Ted Strickland's proposal becomes a reality. According to recent statistics from the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, of which the Howland Public Library is a part, up to 70 percent of all public libraries in Ohio will be forced to close.
A librarian friend from one of the Trumbull Independent Public Libraries which includes Hubbard, the McKinley Memorial Library in Niles, Girard Free Library, Bristol Public Library, Kinsman Free Public Library and the Newton Falls Public Library, recently told me they have experienced a surge in not only new patrons applying for library cards, but also in returning patrons who are checking more books, CDs, DVDs and magazines have been virtually flying off the shelves.
It seems to me that utilizing the services our libraries provide, particularly for our children during summer, is a great way to save hard earned money that would, in better economic times, be spent in movie theaters, video game parlors and in bookstores. While I would never want to see those businesses suffer, families who are struggling often turn to their free libraries when times are tough. If Strickland's plan works, where will these families go for not just entertainment, but for educational social interaction as well?
Although my children are grown up and on their own, they still remember with fondness the fun they had during storytime at the public library. Not only were they entertained while I browsed the shelves for my own favorites, but it left with them a love of books and of reading. What other venue right within our own community offers such a wide variety of activities and entertainment at no cost.
But there will be a cost if our libraries are left to suffer the effects of such a deep cut in their budgets.
Do what you can to help. Contact Strickland at his office by calling 614-466-3555; Senator Capri Cafaro at 614-466-7182; State Representative Tom Letson at 614-466-5358; and State Representative Sandra Stabile Harwood at 614-466-3488. Online, visit ohio.gov/agencies and click on the link to find the comments form. Let your government representatives know how strongly you feel about the potential loss of your public libraries.
They do work for us, after all.