Back on the soap box again to explain why Michigan need libraries. Frankly, i don't think the is topic could be talked about too little or too much. Facts are facts. Growing, thriving communities need libraries to continue to prosper. Our current Governor Sndyer has proposed a budget that will cut 40 percent of library aid. it is a staggering and devastating number not only for every Michigan library but also the communities that seek, need and want the services provided by libraries. All along the campaign trail Rick Snyder proclaimed he wanted to "Reinvent Michigan". While I agree that Michigan needs to make changes there are a couple of facts to ponder upon when considering the path to "reinvent" Michigan.
Fact 1: Michigan libraries provide formal or informal training in computer skills, software training and online job-seeking. For a state that has experienced one of the highest unemployment rates in the past eight years, libraries have been the life jackets for many of our citizens.
Fact 2: Sticking to the employment needs of the state it is hard to ignore the fact that businesses and government agencies require job applicants to complete forms online. Michigan's public libraries provide access to online job applications; job databases and other online resources. As well as, civil service exam materials and offer software or other resources to help patrons create résumés and other employment materials. Wouldn't it be a good idea to help the citizens reinvent themselves for Michigan's new economy? Libraries provide that opportunity!
Fact 3: Michigan libraries offer Internet services such as subscription databases, to online homework resources, and ebooks. These services aid the entire population from small businesses, to the informed consumer to the children in our public schools. These resources are not a frivolous waste of time or money. They open pave the way for information to flow freely to a our communities.
Fact 4: As a former executive of Gateway computers, Governor Snyder should appreciate the findings from the Gates Foundation (as in Bill Gates, Microsoft) which points out that children from low income families need their local public library. “A study by the Gates Foundation found that 50 percent of children surveyed use library computers to do their schoolwork, and that youth from low-income families are disproportionately likely to use library computer resources.”
Fact 5: Children who participate in library programs, such as early literacy programs, family book discussions and summer reading programs, just to name a few, perform better at their schools. Libraries are places where children are encouraged on a daily basis to explore their world. Why would any elected official want to take that away from Michigan's future leaders?
The key to reinventing Michigan, is to keep the opportunities for learning and exploring open. By cutting library funding, the State of Michigan will effectively slow the pace of small business growth, education improvement for our children and communities to prosper and thrive. Consider this an open invitation from myself, Governor. Pick a public library of your choice, and I will gladly take you on a tour to show you what libraries do on a day to day basis for our citizens. It's an important and meaningful job. Libraries and librarians across the state of Michigan take this job to seriously and meet the needs of our patrons to the best of our abilities. As John Barns, executive VP of Gale Cengage, once stated. "Libraries don’t get enough recognition for the role they play in the economic vitality and development of a community." It's time that libraries do receive this recognition before it's too late.