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Letter: Please Don't Gut Our Libraries With Budget Cuts

Lifelong library supporter fears what may happen in the event of city budget cuts.

Dear City Council members,

The proposed 2012 fiscal year budget includes a 32% reduction in the budget for the East Providence Public Libraries. When I spoke to one of the librarians, she commented that a drastic reduction such as this could result in the following:

  • Loss of accreditation and therefore loss of membership in the Ocean State Library consortium;
  • Forced closings of all of the branch libraries: Fuller, Rumford and Riverside;
  • Reduction in library employees by more than half (14 people could lose their jobs);
  • Drastic reduction/elimination of purchasing of new books

As a lifelong East Providence resident, I implore you to reconsider this budget reduction. Since I was a small child, I have been using the libraries in East Providence (and yes, I have used each branch over the years). Some of my fondest childhood memories were from trips to Fuller library while visiting my grandparents.

When my children were born, we made frequent trips to the library to take out books, attend storytimes and special events. My children have used the library as a place to meet a tutor, to do research, have their school artwork exhibited, participated in oratory contests, held student council meetings, participated in summer reading programs, attended babysitting certification courses, and more.

I have attended adult programs such as yoga classes, blood drives, and music programs and other community and educational programs.

In addition to all of the previously mentioned activities, we can always find the most current books and movies for both schoolwork and entertainment. My children and I are avid readers, and we almost always have at least one book each (usually two or three) checked out.

In our frequent trips to the libraries, I have always encountered many other patrons. Clearly, the people of East Providence are making full use of the many services provided by the library.

I do not presume to know the full impact of the budget reduction.  However, I can list some of the ways the above outlined points may impact East Providence residents:

  1. Loss of accreditation and membership in Ocean State Library consortium
    • Will no longer be able to request books (or ebooks for download) from another town/city (i.e. we will be limited to what is available only at Weaver);
    • East Providence public school libraries will also be limited to using/requesting books from within the East Providence system.
  2. Closing of branches
    • Difficulty for some finding transportation to Weaver;
    • Parking, already difficult and limited at Weaver, will be even more so with everyone using one library;
    • Riverside library is fairly new and, I believe, not yet paid for; closing of the branch may result in loss of the state portion of funding and result in the city being responsible for twice the amount of the current payment.
  3. Loss of Jobs
    • Putting 14 people (many of whom are residents of East Providence) out of work in this economy seems unconscionable.
  4. Reduction/Elimination of book purchases
    • Further reduction in access for the adults and children of this city to the latest information available.

I respectfully request that you refrain from passing the proposed budget that contains such drastic cuts to the library budget.

Thank you for your attention to this letter.

Sincerely,
Melissa A. Phillips
33 Holland Ave., East Providence, RI

Marti Monteiro October 05, 2011 at 12:34 PM
This is absolutely TRAGIC. It seems like all our cuts, impact the kids directly. We cut funding to the schools and then shut down the libraries? How is this logical? Who are we helping? It seems the more we cut the more the debt grows. I dont understand it.
Jack October 05, 2011 at 04:12 PM
We all knows times are tough, but to pass this budget would really hurt the library. Please support the library at the next budget hearings on Fri. Oct 14 @ 6pm and Tues. Oct 25.
S October 05, 2011 at 04:25 PM
Ok OK stop lets be honest here, they are kids they are resilient they will bounce back. We can save a ton of money by closing all the libraries and while we are at we can close the schools so we can give the teachers even more money. Mary King only received $5,000 dollars for her longevity bonus of a whopping 1year and 4 months. We need to pay her much more so she can not balance a budget and tell everyone we need an additional 7 million dollars. Friends that is on top of the $6.3 that the city council just made arrangements to pay for them. Contract negotiations are ongoing for the teachers contract Chrissy is in charge pay close attention.
JMS October 05, 2011 at 11:19 PM
I think we're discussing library closings here. And it's not just kids who would lose out. It's the whole population of East Providence. Close libraries and you open the door to ignorance. Wake up, people, before it's too late.
Lmanchester October 06, 2011 at 12:28 AM
I like the sarcastic humor S. Our kids are always the most impacted when it comes to cuts in this town. JMS we will succeed when we ban together in a mature, level headed manner. Anger gets us more disgusting city council meetings that end leaving us all feel worse off then we were when we entered. Passion is great but it should be directed at the appropriate parties in a productive way with our common goal in our sights. We're all awake, we are just at their mercy. "We" voted these clowns in, no one else.
Isabel M. Couto October 06, 2011 at 01:51 PM
Our local libraries are an integral part of our community. One of the distinctions that East Providence has is that we as residents are participants in our city. We live, breathe, shop, socialize within our neighborhoods. Our libraries continue to provide us with all the resources one can imagine behind the brick and mortar. It gives our children a place to nurture their knowledge and our seniors accessibility to technology and socialization. It continues to bridge past generations with future generations. Is it all about the dollars and cents? Let's not sever this too.

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