My former history teacher and long time family friend Ethan Aronoff chimed in today with an intelligent letter to the editor cautioning against action before thought.
To the Editor:
Libraries constitute one of the great manifestations of our democracy. Closing a library degrades our democracy by depriving the citizenry of a bastion of information and a vital center for lifelong learning.
The freeholders in mid-December wisely appointed a transition committee to study the County Library situation.
What that committee discovered is that there are a myriad of complexities that require more time and study.
Such complexities include: fiscal sustainability concerns; impact on the other city libraries already challenged by rising health insurance costs, utility hikes, maintenance expenses, keeping the print and electronic media current, already reduced hours, flat-funded budgets, and staff with no raises; impact on the rural areas; and the retention of the CLUES catalog and check out system.
The committee has also found intricate legal issues that must be addressed.
Many of us are imploring the freeholders and staff to give the committee and the expertise the time and opportunity to make an honest review to bring solutions forward for consideration. The NJ Library Association and the NJ State Library Development Bureau have offered their specialized expertise at little or no cost; however it is my understanding that these offers have not been accepted.
Must Cumberland County take on the negative distinction of being the only county, the first county in N.J., to close a county library?
Does not our quality of life suffer?
Should not we be looking to create more opportunities for raising our literacy rate rather than slamming the door on one that has long existed?
Closing the county library without a proper discourse that takes advantage of available expertise would be a great disservice to county residents.
I urge you to keep the county library open while allowing the transition committee extended time and the use of outside expertise needed to sort out the complex issues involved in any decision regarding this most important institution’s future.
Planning & Development Committee,
Millville Public Library Board