Saturday, May 2, 2009

Florida Eliminates State Funding For Libraries


Library funding saved!
This makes no sense, unless you live in a right-wing wackadoodle fantasyland where things like reading and libraries are “elitist” and the free hand of the market is supposed to somehow come in and provide the services of a not-for-profit:

Florida Library Association asks Floridians to voice their opposition

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (MAY 1, 2009) – On April 30, an appropriations conference committee for the House and Senate agreed to eliminate all funding for Florida’s State Aid to Public Libraries program. This devastating action will result in some Florida library branches closing and will seriously cripple libraries’ ability to serve Floridians. It will be especially damaging to libraries in Florida’s rural communities, as these libraries rely heavily on provisions in the program that help communities with lower tax bases.

The Florida Library Association (FLA) is calling on Governor Charlie Crist to use his influence and ask legislative leaders to find a way to fund this critical program, which has helped support public library service to Floridians since 1962.

This makes absolutely no sense. The loss of funds will mean some branches will close completely, others will have dramatically reduced hours, and loss of funding for technology such as internet access and computers. In this economy, it’s the most short-sighted plan I’ve ever heard of.

As the Tampa Bay Tribune reported:

In this tough economy, she said, more people are depending more heavily on the libraries for services, including Internet access for job searches and applications, assistance programs and education.

Uh, yeah. Talk about your class warfare, when the “haves” can access information and the “have nots” can’t, you're sowing the seeds of disaster.

Here’s another report from Suwannee River:

“We’re at our all-time high usage because of the economy,” Hales said. “We’re hearing things like, ‘I’ve cut off my Internet because we’re on food stamps.’”

Hales said hundreds of people come to the library’s Live Oak branch daily to search the Internet for job listings or inquire about state or federal aid or veterans’ benefits. Students who require Internet access for homework assignments have also been showing up in record numbers.

Way to go, Florida. Cut back an important service just when people need it the most. Even folks in Tennessee wouldn’t do anything this stupid, would we?

Would we?

Florida, you’re going to be laughingstocks of the nation. Yet another reason to keep boycotting Florida.

Take action here.