I applaud Bob Hoover for his coverage of the financial plight of our nation's libraries ("Nation's Libraries Get More Use, Less Funding," Feb. 15). The quote from Larra Clark of the American Library Association sums it up best: "If libraries were a private business, people would be investing in them."
Libraries across Pennsylvania play a key role in the educational fabric of the community. Each day, millions of citizens count on their libraries for job-search assistance, educational resources, computer and Internet access, as well as free books and information. Demand for library services has increased dramatically during this recession as libraries serve people looking for work, families on tight budgets and retirees grappling with shrinking savings.
This is a critical time for our libraries. Gov. Ed Rendell's proposed 2010-11 budget for the commonwealth calls for another devastating reduction in funding for public libraries. With this proposed budget, the public library subsidy has decreased from $75.1 million in 2008-09 to $58.8 million in 2010-11. Further cuts put critical library services in jeopardy and threaten long-term funding.
Last year our city pulled together in an unprecedented fashion to save our libraries. But the threat to our library system has not passed. The $600,000 from the city of Pittsburgh is only for 2010. And the projected table games revenue won't fully cover the growing gap between revenues and expenses. We must urge our elected officials to provide long-term dedicated funding. Libraries are worth the investment.
BARBARA K. MISTICK
President and Director
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh