On My Soapbox: Library Funding

[Michigan Governor Rick Snyder] told the News that public libraries could be used to help more people connect to employment.

“We have a good library system already and we’ve created some great tools, but we have to make sure they’re available to people who don’t have access.” But, the News reports, Snyder doesn’t plan to add more computers to libraries.

“There already are a lot of computers in place, It’s more about how to use those computers more effectively.”

–From mLive.com

This is the kind of statement that makes me so angry. The “let’s send people to libraries, but let’s not give them any funding; in fact, let’s try to reduce their resources by taking away funding” type of statement.

Ok, maybe Governor Snyder doesn’t say in this particular statement that’s he’s trying to take away funding, but I assure you, it is being attempted. There’s currently debate about removing the personal property tax, which would cost Michigan libraries, schools, colleges and local governments $1.2 billion, approximately $30 million of that is normally appropriated for libraries.

I cannot tell you how many times when I worked at a public library, the unemployment office would send people to my library to fill out a claim. These are people who have never used the internet before. Never. Once, I had a person hold the mouse on the computer screen when I told her to “click here.”

Most libraries do not have the staff to hold classes on basic internet skills, much less spend one-on-one time instructing a person. I understand that the Governor only says they’re not adding any computers, but I’ll bet my life there is no funding to back up his statement about using those computers more effectively.

Alright, I’ve vented and I’m stepping off my soapbox now.


Author: Nessa

Librarian for people with visual and physical impairments, and mother of two sharp-witted alien children.

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