Sunday, January 2, 2011

An Open Letter to Michigan's Governor Elect Rick Snyder

An Open Letter to Governor-elect Rick Snyder,

Dear Governor Snyder,

First and foremost congratulations on your successful campaign and appointment as Michigan’s next governor. This is an opportunity for our state to renew and “reinvent” itself in order to survive and strive in the years to come. It is an important turning point in our beloved state’s history. It is with sincerity that I wish you much success in your endeavors as our Governor.

In the days ahead, there will be many decisions to be made. Some will be popular and meet with approval. While others will be very hard to accept and will be met with outcry. Having stated the obvious in general terms, there is an area of particular concern and interest to myself and my colleagues. The libraries in Michigan are suffering tremendous cut backs which are causing many libraries to cut staff, hours and services. In the wake of these cut backs, there is news that State aid to libraries will be cut yet again, leaving many libraries in a tighter pinch than in 2009. While it is with a clear understanding that budgets must be balanced, it is disturbing that libraries, which provide education and economic stability to their communities are now facing budgets that will barely keep their doors open. In a great state like Michigan, which has the best library systems around, this is a travesty.

There are no easy answers to balancing budgets, however, there should be room for discussion on how to make a bad situation better. Shutting library doors to save money does nothing to sustain a community. Libraries are vitally important to providing services, information and community support when economic times are hard. Where else can people find a place to use a computer to find a job? Where can children find a safe place to read and study when the resources at school or home are not available? What makes a society free and successful is the flow of information to every citizen. An educated society is a safe, sound and prosperous one. Isn’t that what every Michigander deserves?

As a professional in libraries for over twenty-five years, I have witnessed many changes in libraries. However, one element has never changed. Information is a valuable commodity. People need it, use it and share it. Along with my peers, library advocates and fellow citizens, I urge you and your administration to seek a better solution to the state’s economic woes than to cut off funding for libraries. It could be argued that libraries are an “extra” luxury the state can not afford to support, but no one can point to how it helps a state to shut down the libraries. What benefits can be gained from this action? To answer my own questions: none. The resources and support that are uniquely provided by the library are not provided any where else in our society. However, grants for the arts, state parks, state gambling such as the lottery, are all frivolous, yet they continue to have a place in our state’s government.

Again, congratulations on your election. It is my hope that in the days ahead, you will be open to working along side librarians and library advocates to support our state and local libraries.
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