As our local libraries here in Ohio face a debilitating budget cut ammounting to a 50% reduction in state funding, I am saddened by the short-sighted approach Governor Strickland took in proposing his solution to Ohio's budget woes. Instead of taking a measured approach and reducing spending evenly throughout the public service sector, he devastated our libraries, one of the most important resources to out-of-work Ohioans and their families in this tough economy, and authorized legalized gambling, an idea which the good people of Ohio have repeatedly defeated at the polls.
It is unrealistic to assume that all state intstitutions would be unaffected by the budget deficit facing legislators in Columbus, but by taking one of our most valuable and free public efucational resources and cutting it off at the knees, the Governor is cutting off his nose to spite his face. Fifty percent budget cuts will close library branches, limit hours, reduce staff (increasing unemployment), and diminish vital services across the state.
I was unemployed for a time seven years ago, a victim of the tough economic times faced by nonprofits after 9/11. I waited the appropriate number of days after my layoff, and headed to the local office to file for unemployment benefits. I can honestly say that beyond the meager checks that kept me financially afloat (if just barely) I received no other benefit from my association with the state unemployment agency. As a professional woman with an advanced degree their job training offered me nothing, and I was both overqualified for and uninterested in the job listings the agency had available in unskilled labor.
It was from my local library and the incredibly supportive, resourceful, and knowledgable staff I found there that I received the kind of help I needed to find another job. The internet access, which I could not afford at home, kept me in touch with job sites and allowed me to quickly respond to postings that fit my skills and experience.
It is exactly these resources and services that we can least afford to lose right now. Please, take just a moment to send off three or four sentences in an email to your legislators, emploring them not to destroy our vital library system here in Ohio. Your neighbors will thank you for it. Your children will love you for it. And the next time you get shhh'd at the library, you can tell the librarians that they owe you one.
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