Several of us citizens, county tax payers are we, testified about what libraries mean to us. I listened as senior citizens who either cannot afford to purchase computers of their own or who worry about not knowing enough about the technology to maintain them spoke of their dependence upon the Internet access provided in their neighborhood library. Ordinary working people, the ones Giambra does not listen to, spoke about their need of library services. Mothers told of borrowing stacks of books for their families’ enjoyment. Everyone spoke with eloquence, including children. One small boy said, “ I love the library.”

His testimony reminded me of when my father and I went to the Riverside Library each week during my childhood. Our reading preferences differed but we both found plenty of books to satisfy us. Helpful librarians were always ready to suggest other authors we should check out.

When I visit my neighborhood library now, students of various ages look for materials for class projects. I think back to the papers I had to write and the information I found at the public library.

My children enjoyed the “ Library Hour” at our neighborhood library as preschoolers. After the stories, we found books to bring home. In the beginning our younger daughter balked at returning books she had made me read repeatedly. I promised her new ones. Eventually she realized more books awaited that could make her laugh, teach her something, and make her feel good.

Our older daughter and a friend made weekly visits to the library. They had a competition to see who could read the most books in a week. Our daughters continue to enjoy reading, a practice that originated at the public library.

In April, 1993 Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, testified before Congress saying, “ There could emerge two classes of Americans: information ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.’” Now we may indeed experience that very inequity in WNY. Our governor has proposed funding libraries in Republican districts while our county executive threatens to close the libraries to “ fix” a budget gap of his making.

Districts with Republican legislators, most often suburban districts, also have well funded schools with libraries. Their residents may not miss public libraries as much as people in poorer areas where many depend upon the free library services.

According to the 2002 American Community Survey, approximately 30,000 Buffalo households have annual incomes of less than $15,000. Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council found that more than 40% of adults in Buffalo have no access to private transportation. Buffalo hosts some of the highest populations living in poverty in our nation. City schools cut libraries, despite the fact that strong libraries improve student achievement. To propose taking away free public libraries from lower During the Depression years, library usage went up. People could not afford recreation and needed access to information. In a democratic society, unhindered access to information is not a luxury, but a requirement.

Renovation of the central library for a cost of $15.5 million has begun. The proposed closing of both the Dudley and Cazenovia branches for a new $2.5 million library with the renovation costs adds up to the $18 million needed to keep Buffalo and Erie County libraries open. Instead of unneeded construction, library access in all communities should be the priority.

Cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Denver host public libraries considered destination places. Imagine what visitors to WNY will think if our libraries are shuttered. An area without a free public library will be a backward place where the populace may resort to information from sources like, shudder, Fox News.

Every citizen must have access to easily attainable information. Libraries are the true centers of our democracy. They provide information, meeting places, and opportunities for civic engagement.

I have attended public hearings as well as theatrical productions such as Macbeth at the library. Citizens receive help making out their income tax forms there in the spring.

It seems as if the Republican agenda nationwide is to run up deficits that will force cuts to entitlement programs. Giambra wants to cut the very things that make life bearable here in this wasteland of no ideas and no real leadership.

We must not allow his slash and burn mentality to triumph. Public libraries are necessities, not budgetary fat. We must cut the number of politicians and their out-of-line salaries instead.

Sandy McPherson Carrubba
( 716) 873 4586
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By Sandy McPherson Carrubba

We packed the library board meeting to plead for our libraries. The Board of Director's meeting was the wrong forum. We needed to address the County Executive, who blames poor people on all the problems of this county. You've heard his spiel: it's all Medicaid's fault. Medicaid recipients made the employees of the East Aurora Highway Garage use county equipment for their own use and misuse county funds. Medicaid recipients made Giambra buy $2.2 million worth of furniture from his buddy, a big time campaign contributor, without using the state bidding process. Medicaid recipients forced the Giambra administration to purchase $8.44 million worth of motor vehicles without using the state bidding process. Medicaid recipients made his administration purchase a new computer system that forces social workers in the Social Services Department to require three computers on their desks because one cannot carry the necessary programs that the old system did. Medicaid recipients most certainly are to blame for the fact that political patronage has run amuck in the Giambra years. Clearly those Medicaid recipients are detrimental to the county's fiscal health.Shame on them! Let's take away their benefits.