The fight for funding our libraries is entering a critical phase as the budgeting process for Westchester county and many municipalities begins in the next few weeks. Anne Collins, Director of the Purchase (NY) Free Library, penned this open letter to her community in response to Harrison Mayor Joan Walsh's request for input on priorities for the coming budget year. I reproduce it with Anne's kind permission:
In a letter to the community dated Friday, August 6, Joan Walsh asked everyone what services they would be willing to give up to avoid further tax increases. While it is extremely inconvenient for Harrison residents to have curtailed garbage collections, such cut-backs in services cannot compare with the negative effect of closing a library. Libraries and library services add value to a community.I couldn't agree with Anne more. As a Harrison taxpayer, I will be loudly expressing my opinion on the importance of these libraries as well.
In good times and bad, the Purchase Free Library performs many services beyond the ordering and circulation of materials. To promote socialization and reading readiness, we sponsor frequent children's programs, such as our Mother Goose series and Musical Munchkins. Every summer, we offer our Summer Reading Game. The Friends bring us talented children's book authors every year, like Tish Rabe, who came to the library last November to talk about her delightful Cat In The Hat young reader series. This fall, we will be initiating a free weekly play group and story hour.
The Friends also sponsor outstanding educational programs every year from the Greenburgh Nature Center and the Cornell Cooperative Extension Services. In March, 2010, the Friends sponsored a wildly successful program about Birds Of Prey from the Greenburgh Nature Center.
The number of events we sponsor is increasing every month. In April, a new Purchase Free Library Book Club was initiated by popular request.
Our newsletter, Library Links, combines details of all our outreach activities together with announcements about upcoming programs. Library Links, like the library itself, serves to educate and keep us in touch with our community and to bring the community together.
In her letter, Joan invited everyone to tell her which services they would be willing to give up and "which services and amenities are too important to forego because they enhance the life of the community." The Purchase Free Library can only be seen as providing great enhancement. I am hoping that some of you might be able to speak up for the importance of our library to the cultural life of the greater Harrison community: Harrison, West Harrison, and Purchase.
Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a romantic thriller about blood diamonds in the Congo.