What’s the hub-bub at the Library?

Amid discussions to close the county Library, it seems that the Freeholder liaison has missed most of the meetings. I blasted Magazzu and crew when they reneged on their sworn duties to represent the taxpayers by blowing off their committees, and I am not going to be silent when our current freeholders do the same.

Official minutes from commission meetings show Fiocchi has attended just three of nine monthly meetings this year. The commission did not meet in June and July. Fiocchi does not dispute the attendance records.

If you do not have plans to attend at least a majority of the committee meetings as you promised when accepting appointment to committees, you should step down. I don’t care if you are Jane Jannarone or Sam Fiocchi. I happen to like Sam, an fully supported him in his campaign, but reading this sort of news in the paper is disconcerting. I support candidates that keep their word and work for their constituents.

The debate on closing the library is emotional. When times get tough, the arts and culture is the first to feel the axe, as these are considered non-critical. Of course I disagree with this assessment – they continue to find tons of money to pay lawyers, who in my opinion should be the first to be cut!  But that is just me…

However, the arguments made by the supporters of the county library don’t hold much water. For instance:

(Committee V.P. Mary) Moyer and other advocates, including Cumberland County Library Director Jean Edwards, have said closing the facility near the Bridgeton-Fairfield borer dwould be a blow to residents who live far from one of Cumberland’s three city libraries.

The county library is just outside the city of Bridgeton, which has it’s own library. The only way to get to the county library is if you own your own vehicle, as it is located on the outskirts of Bridgeton, and not near any population center. That argument is ludicrous, if someone can make it to the county library, they can certainly make it to the Bridgeton library.

The county has five libraries, so to refuse to even consider consolidation at any level reeks of personal empire building. The arguments that those seeking jobs and that do not have access to a computer would be hurt by closing the county branch fall quite short. Again, if somebody cannot afford a computer in this day and age, they most likely do not have transportation either. The county has two One-Stop Employment centers, and as the give-away of thousands of dollars to victims of a recent storm have proved, if someone wants something bad enough, they will find a way to get there.

However, just as it is incumbent on the library commission to be open-minded and willing to compromise, it is also critical that the county elected leaders make the minimal effort of showing up and listening to the other side.

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2 Responses to What’s the hub-bub at the Library?

  1. mango says:

    The problem with consolidation seems to be the inadequate infrastructure of the accessible libraries. I agree the libraries should be located near population centers. That eliminates the county college as a useful facility. Vineland has a pretty nice library, but I guess if the county library is eliminated, most users would have to use either Millville or Bridgeton. The facilities at these libraries do not allow for expansion — they are deficient in physical space and condition, equipment (e.g., computers) and probably staff as well. Also, the county library houses CLUES, the on-line system that maximizes effective use of all library resources in the county. Who is going to pick up that service?

  2. WuLi says:

    Excellent points, Mango. What needs to happen is all the libraries to begin to cooperate NOW and devise plans to salvage and move forward, expecting the worst. Millville library will soon be relocated. How soon nobody at this point can guess, but it is inevitable. It would be the perfect location to expand and fill needs – and there is no reason why one of the tree libraries cannot take over the Clues system – it is not like it is cast in bedrock in that current location.

    One point I disagree about is the population center – the county library is nowhere near a population center – in fact it is quite inconveniently located. The college is closer to a population center, and also has a little better access to public transportation. And as we know, public transportation in Cumberland County is almost non-existent.

    But most important of all, our elected officials have a DUTY to be intimately involved in all discussions so that they fully understand the total impact of their decisions, and that it is more than a bottom-line situation.

    We are the poorest, least educated county in the state, and to remove educational opportunities to save a few dollars will serve to push the county further back into the dark ages. And unfortunately, one of the committee members on the new task force is a former judge whose sole intention is to bush the county back to prehistoric times, so that he and his cronies can continue to enrich themselves without hindrance.

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