It is no great news that the City of Seattle is low on funds . Due to the severe dough lackage, they have decided to cut fire station upgrades, trash cans for parks, and, of course, close the library for a week. In the recently published 2009-2010 fiscal forecast for the City of Seattle, the Seattle City Council Budget committee blames these problems on everything to the deregulation of the 1980s, personal risk taking of the 1990s, and other typical things legislators point at when they don’t want to take the blame for inadequate budgetary responsibility (to be fair, the economic downturn has obviously reduced revenue, but I digress).
In recent times, the city of Seattle has wasted money hand over fist, employing adviser after adviser and the city’s attorneys desire to waste time and money crusading against bars is well documented. So what did all this get us? A week of a shut down library, along with other numerous cuts.
Now I know what many of you out there are saying. So what? It is just one week, man. Relax. Well, there is one thing I am sure of, and that is the people of Seattle (and specifically of Ballard) love their library. Every time I go in there the computers are full, and people from all walks of life are browsing the net, looking for books, and benefiting from the idea that information and quality literature should be available to the public free of charge, all the time.
The public library is an essential American institution that allows for those of low incomes and limited resources to be provided opportunity to seek meaningful information for the betterment of both themselves and the general public. As employment in the state hovers at 9%, underemployed members of the community will be cut off for one week from one of the most essential components of finding and obtaining a job in 21st Century America – the internet.
While my fierce opposition to the closing of libraries might seem like an overreaction to some, I issue a warning to those who do not see the slippery slope that the city walks toward. If you can justify closing a library for a week – why not a month? Why not charge an annual membership fee? Why even have a library system at all? Why not hire some more well-paid policy advisers that will show us how to spend our money better?