Of All Places! | Opinion, Politics

Of All Places!

Of all places for something like this to be happening. We are just east of Pittsburgh, PA. The very same city that Andrew Carnegie lived in and gathered his wealth in, ultimately to distribute philanthropically. No matter what issues people have with his business practices, none can deny that he was a very generous philanthropist. Particularly regarding PUBLIC LIBRARIES.

My husband and I moved our family into the very nice community of North Huntingdon about a 1.5 years ago. We're confident there is a good school system here for our son. We bought a piece of history by buying our home here. What is amazing — no appalling — to me is that there is a group of people who are trying to strip funds from our public library by putting a referendum on the May 15, 2007 ballot reducing the millage assessed from 1.2 mill to 0.2 mill.

This amounts to somewhere between $25-$50 annually from an average household in this area. A rough comparison? My 5 year old son was at an event with me where there was a gift shop open and available for our shopping pleasure. One item he found — and really, really wanted — was a DVD... at $24.99! For ONE DVD! Add a couple more small items and there you have the ANNUAL tax assessment for our public library.

I understand that there are underlying issues regarding this whole push to reduce the funding for the library. I've made a point of speaking with people at the library. I've looked at their publicly available financial records. I understand that they chose to build a new structure, outside the town of Irwin, in an effort to more fully serve the larger community they are called on to serve. I tried to attend meetings to understand the other side. They didn't make that an easy proposition.

As my husband said to me “Knowledge is free but, making sure it's made available to everyone is NOT free.” We're encouraging all folks we know around here to VOTE on May 15 and to VOTE NO on the library millage reduction referendum. Do not cut funding to a vital community resource.

Libraries today provide access to computer education so people can improve their skills to get better jobs to support their families. Libraries today provide movies, books on tape and wonderful books for us, our children and our aging family members as well. I find no small irony in the fact that this is happening just a stones throw from the city of Pittsburgh, known as much for the libraries of Andrew Carnegie as for his steel mills.