Diane Cherry: Closing Cobb's libraries a threat to public safety
by Diane Cherry
Guest Columnist
July 03, 2011 12:00 AM | 3049 views | 6 6 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When I was a little girl, going to the library was a special treat that allowed me the opportunity to wander up and down the aisles of books getting lost while looking for new adventures in the stacks. My first civics lesson was learned at the age of 6 when I discovered that I couldn't write in library books or spill liquids on them and had to return them before the due date or have the fine deducted from my allowance. While my family was comfortable enough to be able to buy books if we wanted to, we looked upon going to the library as one of life's little luxuries to be savored.

While many of us still think of libraries as one of those little luxuries that we could easily survive without, others do not. For some, libraries are a necessity they can ill afford to lose. I am fortunate enough to be able to drive to any one of three or four libraries within a 15-mile radius of my home. Others, who have lost their cars due to tough economic times, or who can't afford the insurance premiums or gas to keep them going, are unable to drive 15 miles across town to get to a library. Closing their local library branch means they will no longer have access to the library.

I have my own home computer with internet access as well as a laptop that I can use at my leisure to surf the net, improve my resume or look for a new job. Not everybody is so fortunate. Many of the unemployed no longer can afford a computer or the cost of internet service at home. If not for the computers at their local library branch, they would have no way to hone their resume or search online databases for jobs.

While I have a newspaper delivered every day and two on Sunday along with my favorite monthly publications, many people depend upon library periodicals to keep abreast of the news. For many, libraries are not a luxury but are part and parcel to their economic and spiritual survival.

The current debate on whether to close libraries or cut public safety and eliminate senior centers presents a false dichotomy. Public safety means more than funding officer salaries and paying for patrol cars. Keeping libraries open is fundamental to public safety. Children who learn to read do well in school. Children who do well in school go on to get advanced training and degrees. A well-trained workforce makes it easier to attract and keep businesses in Cobb County.

Public safety begins with our teens who we can either educate and give opportunities to or deal with out on the streets. The same is true for the unemployed and homeless friends, neighbors and former co-workers who have touched every one of us. They need the libraries now more than they ever did.

If we close libraries, we are shutting the doors on the people who need us most - a very real threat to public safety - as economic desperation often leads to crime and public unrest.

Now is the time to support our libraries, not close them. Pressuring the commissioners to cut library funding is a threat to public safety, not a vote in favor of it. Library budgets have already been slashed and hours drastically reduced. Both public and private funding is needed to ensure the libraries continue to stay open.

The Cobb Library Foundation is dedicated to helping raise private funding for Cobb County's libraries and is working harder this year than ever before. In 2011, the foundation has planned more than a dozen fundraisers across the county to help save the libraries. Many local citizens and organizations recognize the importance of keeping the libraries open and providing resources for the entire community-from children to seniors-and are partnering with the foundation to give their time and money to save the libraries.

Commissioners Tim Lee and JoAnn Birrell are two of several VIPs who helped the Cobb Library Foundation raise nearly $10,000 in private funds during its most recent fundraiser last weekend. Keeping our libraries open will require both public and private support and is a matter of survival for the citizens of Cobb, not a luxury to be trimmed from the budget.

Diane Cherry is the president of the Cobb Library Foundation, Inc. and a family law lawyer in Kennesaw.
Comments
(6)
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PotCallTheKettle
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August 26, 2011
WOW, Dianne. Sounds like you have more than enough $ and time on your hands. Did you retire from the BofE or Cobb County? Maybe YOU should offer up some of your space and time and $ spent on newspapers and internet access and laptops and such and go OUT and HELP the people that need the help you speak of so voraciously. Volunteers needed everywhere. Not everyone has meals or AC, either. Invite some folks over for 6 or 8 hours a day...volunteer some workshops out of your own home. There's a civic thing to do...
education for all
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July 05, 2011
Everyone seems to want more money for prisons and less money for things that improve education in this county. If that's what you want, feel free to defund libraries and schools. I'm sure the filling of prisons will be what follows. The more educated a person becomes the less likely they will end up in prison (unless they become a banker.) Libraries provide an education to anyone who is willing to learn.
A Stretch
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July 05, 2011
I'm sorry, but trying to state that closing libraries will some how lead to civil unrest is a stretch. Cobb has too many libraries. Your article even said that you have the option to to choose between 3-4 libraries within a 15 mile radious. That could and should be reduced. Every school has a library for teens to utilize during the school year. And to think that riots and unrest would break out is asinine! Keep libraries open IS NOT FUNDEMENTAL TO PUBLIC SAFETY! You are living in a world of abundance and excess. Wake up, no tramatic event has ever been stopped or handled by a library.
Ali50
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July 04, 2011
Closing libraries would create a threat to public safety? Wow! What a ridiculous stretch.
anonymous
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July 03, 2011
---Others, who have lost their cars due to tough economic times, or who can't afford the insurance premiums or gas to keep them going, are unable to drive 15 miles across town to get to a library. Closing their local library branch means they will no longer have access to the library.---

You are absolutely right. I personally see this on a weekly basis. I know what you are saying is true...and, sadly, it IS more than a few people. Yet, until you wrote this, it had not actually clicked with me and I had been a strong critic of having all 17 libraries untouched by recent cut backs.

Those people that need access to the libraries are the ones often looking hardest for one of the scarce jobs that might be available. They aren't the kids dumped off by the moms after school for easy baby sitting. They are the people of Cobb County who have been hit hardest by our Dear Leader Obama's "Hope & Change" and our congresses spineless focus on how to use the problems we face to win the next elections, (NOT how to resolve the problems...now).

With respect to Cobb County specifically, our contractor community and Chamber members are doing quite well with all the continued spending by the county gov of Cobb ...life is good if you have Cobb County gov as a customer! Access to a library is not a big deal for them (or, for that matter, people like me ---blessed we are).
John Wayne
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July 03, 2011
Best joke I've heard in a long time.
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