The value of the Akron-Summit County Public Library is priceless
Carl Sagan once said, “Frederick Douglass taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom. There are many types of slavery and there are many types of freedom. But reading is always the way. “
Today, libraries still provide materials and programs to encourage literacy, but they also provide many other important services to communities, including, but not limited to, free access to computers and the Internet. , as well as programs for all ages, from babies to the elderly. .
And, more importantly, public libraries have become the de facto after-school program and daycare for many turnkey kids across the country.
Many lifelong Ohioans may not know that our libraries overwhelmingly provide better services and materials than those in other states. I often hear this from newcomers to Ohio.
Funding is the key to why we have such good library systems in Ohio. It allows the creation and maintenance of another anchor in our communities, with schools, places of worship and businesses.
And within those anchors are dedicated librarians and staff. I sometimes wonder if they all have to pass a test of empathy and kindness before they are hired.
My second son, Hugo, now 24, attended college at the Miller South School for the Arts. After school most days, he carried his backpack full of books and his saxophone case down a hill and through a field to the nearby Vernon Odom library branch.
During Hugo’s years at Miller South, I had three children at three different schools. The trip lasted over an hour, twice a day. Mornings were hectic as I tried to get everyone to school on time. Afternoons, not so much because Hugo was working safe and playing with friends in the library until I arrived.
When I walked in to find Hugo, I saw librarians take their unfunded mission seriously, providing additional programming, running book clubs, hosting craft events, play days, and once a week. , showing films to Miller South students filling the building. .
One Mother’s Day, Hugo gave me a bar of lavender soap that he had made in the library. Not only did I love receiving a gift that Hugo had made by hand, but he felt as excited as one does when giving the perfect gift.
A few years ago, the Akron-Summit County Public Library System partnered with the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank to provide nutritious after-school snacks for children, some of whom have their meals. at school from 10:30 a.m. This program was necessarily halted during the pandemic, but according to the general manager of the library system, Pam Hickson-Stevenson, it should resume as soon as possible.
Since 2003, the branch we frequent the most is Highland Square. The librarians know my five children by name and frequently ask me about my adult children.
One of my favorite librarians at the Highland Square branch was a woman named Amy. She had short black hair, one of those gritty Demi Moore voices, and a wry sense of humor.
Several years ago, I noticed that the display case near the entrance was filled with pictures of Amy and her son. When I asked another librarian about it, she said, “Well, I don’t know if you know, but Amy lost her son not long ago.
I knew. He was the light of her life, which she took after cancer robbed her. I cried ugly right there at the checkout while the librarian, who knew Amy much better than I did and was still dealing with her own grief, comforted me.
Last fall I took my Akron University graduate students to the main library to show them how to research grants using the Foundation Center directory which is a great online service. . But the website isn’t free, that is, except at Ohio libraries, which pay a fee to make it available to customers at no cost.
However, the website was not working that night, which two very concerned librarians determined after I alerted them that we were unable to log in. Fortunately, I had also invited a professional scholarship writer to speak with my students, so the class was not a wash.
Then, for the next two weeks, I received regular updates from the librarians until the website was back on line, with every call peppered with unnecessary excuses.
On the ballot in the upcoming May 4 election, a renewal of the levy represents 55% of the funding for the Akron-Summit County Public Library. Without the passage of the tax, it’s safe to assume that jobs would be cut, hours of operation would be reduced, and with such drastic cuts, hours and after-school programming would decrease.
Because the levy is a renewal, it will not increase taxes. (Frankly, if it was up to me, I would give the library an increase in funding.)
The royalty costs homeowners $ 4.21 per $ 100,000 of home value. This is a great price for an invaluable resource in our communities. Please vote yes to the continued funding of our incredible library network.
Contact Holly Christensen at [email protected]