Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Dear Mayor Nutter,
Look, I know that Philadelphia is facing a pretty big budget problem. I understand that the entire economy is tanking and that there's something that we should do in order to make ends meet in terms of the city and its fiscal health. However, closing libraries and public pools is not the answer. Kids already have a hard enough time finding things to do and places to go after school on the weekends. Apparently, malls are even kicking them out. But closing a bunch of the library branches? This is beyond ridiculous. Especially in this bad economy, we, as citizens, needs places we can go for free entertainment and distraction. The Philadelphia Free Library is a wonderful library system that lends videos, DVDs, books, manuscripts, newspapers, etc. They provide a safe and warm environment for kids to go to for research. There are free computers and access to community groups. There are meeting places for local charities, lectures on myriad interests (I once saw Will Shortz of NY Times Crossword Puzzle Fame) and a plethora of things to do, explore and learn. When I was a kid, I visited the Oxnard Public Library every week with my Grandma, and I am pretty sure I checked out every Nancy Drew book they had at the library. Kids need access to good books, lots of them, and they need encouragement to read and write as often as possible. The library is a center for education, a center for community awareness, and a way to get in touch with your neighbors, your roots, anything you might be interested in. To close a library because of a budget shortfall is a disgrace to this city and and insult to education (which we are trying to improve around here!). And while I'm at it, please don't close those public pools! There are so few here in the city, and they are not open for very long (two months at most). They provide employment for local kids, a place to learn how to swim in a safe environment, and a great place to cool off in the dead heat of summer. The public pools are safe, popular and a great place for kids to hang out in the summer. Please don't elminate these perks (the very few) that our neighborhoods enjoy. I understand you are taking a pay cut (as are many other city employees), which I commend you for. I also understand you are working hard to make the budget balanced, which is something your predecessors may not have done. I think those are all good things to try to do. But when you are cutting services that are so popular, so needed in most of our city neighborhoods, you are asking us to sacrifice too much. We'd like to see the city sacrifice some of it's self instead of taking away our perks. Many things have been suggested, like changing to a computer based system to eliminate paper waste. What about increasing recycling? The city can definitely make money off that. Please, Mayor Nutter, think about this. A whole generation of kids growing up without libraries? I can't bear to think about it.