Saturday, October 25, 2008

SOL: Save Our Library

One of the things we always show visitors is the Fayetteville Public Library. Nothing makes us more proud of our city than the beautiful LEED Certified structure, teeming with activity every day and holding treasures for inquiring minds of all ages, a place for coffee, conversation, and community events. Those of us who hold it sacred have been disappointed that not everyone shares that reverence nor believes it deserving of enthusiastic support.

Last month, we caught a glimpse of a discouraging and disappointing conversation we thought we'd never hear. With library usage continuing to break monthly records and citizns seeking even more convenient hours, Mayor Dan Coody told the library board and staff not to ask for a budget increase of more than $402 for next year. Library Director Louise Schaper and Board member Don Marr explained that the library needed an additional $65,913 for staff wage increases, extending hours on weekends and nights, and expanding digital media access. Coody was not persuaded.and recommended no additional money for expanding service or resources. Other things were more important than the summer reading program for children or being open longer hours for the convenience of working families.

Then the stockmarket took a dive, and that could reduce the operational funds available from the Fayetteville Public Library Foundation by as much as $200,000, requiring additional cuts in existing services at the library in next year's budget. Facing indifference from the mayor and uncertainty from the market, our public library is in a world of hurt. It will not be expanding services but reducing them.

The Friends of the Fayetteville Public Library will host its annual silent auction from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, November 15, at the library. Please donate any items that you can and come bid on books and more for a good cause. The money raised from the auction will allow the group to provides additional funds for library programs and services.

Sami Sutton's suggestion that the community needs to hold fundraisers to support essential services is starting to sound like good advice. Dan Coody is suddenly opposed to raising property taxes to support the library, to provide cost-of-living raises to city employees, or to balance the budget, so a bake sale looks like the only option for those of us who love our public library.

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