Hitting closer to home

We haven't really been feeling the downward economic spiral in our house. Nothing's changed for us, though we continue to try and live a bit more frugally, mostly so we can save for the kids' education and our own retirement. But we hadn't felt the pinch like so many other people.

The price we paid for our home wasn't over our heads, so we haven't faced foreclosure like so many Americans who over-reached, succumbed to greed, and are now being bailed out WITH OUR TAX MONEY.

WITH OUR TAX MONEY.

I'm a little annoyed by that. Does it show? I can't go out and buy, say, a Ferrari when I can't afford one, then turn around and ask the country to pay for my car lust. Can I? Because if I can…

Anyway.

Though the economy in our own county is horrendous at 10 % (maybe higher now), Paul and I both have jobs. We're very lucky.

At the library I planned a job hunt program per month, through the summer, and every time I swear it feels like the the patrons are looking at me – employed me – like they'd like to kill me and take my job. It's disconcerting. One of them said, with a gleam in her eye, "You're employed… You're lucky." It was more in the delivery, and facial expression, than the actual words. I think she'd have eaten me with a knife and fork if she could, then given her resume to my supervisor. The same resume the program had just helped her tweak.

What's concerning me is I received a message today from our library system (450 + member libraries) that our budget will need to be cut by $ 393,000. That's split between the libraries, but still. A bit more scary when it hits closer to home. What services will be cut? Will any libraries be closed? Our library is, so far, well-funded. We serve a burgeoning community, but one that's also suffered its share of unemployment and foreclosures. What will this mean for us?

I'm one semester away from having my coveted MLIS – the degree I thought I could take anywhere we may move in the future (though we have no plans to), because almost every community has a library. How long before that's not the case, since our government considers public institutions, like libraries, an easy place to cut, because few people will be affected?

What would our community say? Given the choice between cutting the police force, firefighters, and other taxpayer-funded employees and dumping their librarians, which would lose out? Yep. We would. Because there's an internet to provide information. Because most reading is "optional." Because we aren't as valued as we know we should be.

We'll see how things shake out. There'll be another meeting of our state government in November, and we could get some – or hopefully all – of this money back. We probably won't, but we could. The head of our library system is calling for library advocacy, for librarians to swarm the capital of our state and protest the cuts for libraries. We need to send letters, show up and protest, write op-ed pieces for papers state-wide.

Let's hope the state remembers how badly it needs us, how we bring communities together and provide services to those who couldn't otherwise afford them. It's time to gear up for another fight.

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