Those Libraries Are Ours
by Rose Marie Hall
Last week if you read the Buffalo News or passed through Lafayette Square, you would have read about or seen the protest occurring to save our Buffalo and Erie County Public Library system. Erie County Executive Collins has proposed in next year’s budget to cut the funding to the library by $4 million along with the cuts to our great cultural organizations. This would mean that along with the proposed cuts to the hours in the branch libraries, the library system would lay off 250 workers, and dismantle or decimate the Central Library. The Board of Directors of the library have proposed the following:
1. Reduce branch libraries to as little as 16-24 hours of public time.
2. Closing the second floor of the Central Library, which would send all of that collection to closed stacks—you could not browse or do research in the science and engineering area of the library.
3. The building of walls throughout the first floor that would remove all books from public access. This means that unlike the present state, you would have to put in a request for a book before you could ever see it.
4. Only two librarians for the downtown library.
5. The closing of the bookstore.
6. Severely reduce the hours of the Grosvenor Room, which houses the music collection, rare books, and genealogy and local history houses that goes back to the early 1800s and is vital to historical research.
I love books; in fact I visit the library regularly and enjoy taking my grandchildren there. They’ve learned that the library is a great place. It truly is one of my favorite places to be—surrounded by all the possibilities that one can read, watch, listen to, and explore within the mind. And as a tour guide for me to do any type of research, public access to the physical books is essential—one cannot just request a book and think that is all that is needed. Looking at one book takes you to another; the research process often involves spending time just leafing through a series of books, looking at the indexes, the bibliography, the introduction, the maps, and the actual writing of the author.
Chris Collins is denying the public something that we already own. We the public have the right to absolute and direct access to the library system and vast and enormous collection that is carried in our libraries.
If the County Legislature backs Collins on this one, we are the losers in the ability to do research, to learn, and to educate ourselves and our children.
So I strongly urge you to write to your Erie County legislator. Please be part of preserving this vast resource that we own, not Chris Collins nor the legislators of Erie County.
Rose Marie Hall
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