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Libraries want a bailout too

Tom Jackson • Mar 23, 2010 at 6:27 PM

Along with the other organizations getting in line in Washington, D.C., to ask for a bailout, such as banks, General Motors and state governments, you can add another group — public libraries. If Congress can’t write the check during the day, lawmakers can leave it in the slot after hours.

The American Library Association has issued a press release calling for “$100 million in stimulus funding” for America’s libraries. If you aren’t convinced giving more money to libraries helps the local economy, scroll down to the bottom of the release, which cites “a recent Pennsylvania study.” A “similar report from Florida” says the same thing. I never knew footnotes were so easy when I wrote my term papers in college. (Via this posting on the Kids Prefer Cheese blog.)

Besides, where’s the bailout for America’s newspapers, which are shedding jobs despite their vital role in the public’s right to know? You’re not against the First Amendment, are you?

Libraries do serve an important role in helping people with little money. If you’re out of work, you can use library computers to produce resumes and search Internet job listings. If you have to cancel cable TV to save money, you can at least check out library DVDs. Erie County is blessed with excellent libraries. If I spent any more time inside Sandusky’s, I’d be arrested for vagrancy.

My point is that hard times force choices. Before we cut the libraries a check, can we make sure we’ve taken care of the food banks, and children who need medical care, and unemployed workers who need to pay utility bills?

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