Libraries Need Funding, Not Sponsorship
I would like to address Mr. Zanna's letter, and suggestions in articles from the county commissioners meetings, regarding cuts to library funding as a way to make up short falls in the county budget.
First, I truly believe that Mr. Zanna has his heart in the right place in attempting to resolve this issue – he is willing to put his money on the line. I do, however, disagree with the concept of privatization of the county public library system.
To begin with, public libraries are exactly that – public. This country had libraries before it was an independent nation. Benjamin Franklin was our first national librarian.
We seem to be in a rush to privatize every service and public operation these days. Some privatization, as in the prison systems in some areas, have shown to have their own issues and problems. Betsy DeVos is a proponent of public education being privatized; an idea some of us find disturbing and dangerous to a democratic society.
Here in Mohave County, as in Arizona as well, budget issues are strained and funding all our services is problematic.
Our schools in Arizona are at just about the bottom of the barrel nationwide for funding, and in Mohave County, school budgets are cut to the bone.
The library system in this county is more than a place to borrow books. It provides a broad spectrum of programs to enrich the lives and education of our children, from toddlers on up through college students. It offers computer services to those who cannot afford home services. Learning systems and public forums on wildlife, insurance, health, etc.. It provides us with the Welcome program, that facilitates, coordinates and expands communication systems between library, business and the public supporting literacy in a rainbow of ways. It supports volunteer organizations such as Friends of the Library and Kingman Area Literacy Program. The public library is the very backbone of community literacy.
Consider Mr. Zanna's model – everything would be "sponsored" by local business enterprises. Sounds interesting, but how would you create a functional budget based on sponsorship; businesses open and close every day. These sponsorships would be voluntary – suppose we had an economic downturn here in the county. What happens to our library system when businesses decide they can't, or choose not to, continue their support? Suppose some business owners want to use their support of the library as a forum for their personal beliefs and agendas. Does the library do without necessary funds? And it would require a lot of work to label every book, CD, DVD, computer, etc., which would mean more staff, more cost.
A strong public library system is key to the educational and economic growth of any county. It is my opinion that the county commissioners need to search for ways less damaging to the communities in Mohave County, to fund their shortfalls.
Our kids deserve for us to preserve a quality public library system beholding to no one!
I hope those of you who want to see our library system continue the excellent work it does here in Mohave County will urge our county commissioners to support and sustain it. Without it, our families lose again.
Sharon M. Weber