As a child of a public school teacher, money wasn’t something that we had a lot of growing up. In fact, just recently my older brother and I realized that beef bouillon cubes weren’t used to make ‘soup’ as my mother would call it – it’s actually just used to create beef stock for a meal. The one thing we could look forward to was a trip to the library. There were quite a few great libraries in our neighborhood, and an outing to one of them was always a treat. You could walk in with no money and walk out with a stack of books – all you needed was that precious plastic Miami-Dade library card.
I’m a mother of four young children, and financially there isn’t any place my children love as much as the library. My oldest son Vicente is reading leaps and bounds above his grade level and I have the Miami-Dade public library partially to thank for that. Last year in first grade he finished reading all the Harry Potter books, over the summer he breezed through Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels, and he is currently enthralled with the children’s biography section. My three smaller children look forward to the library as well, they love story time and during the summer were so excited to be able to partake in some of the great activities our library offered.
I’ve wanted to write a piece for ‘Save the Miami-Dade Public Libraries’ for a while, but I wasn’t sure what I could really add to this struggle. Then I realized that my family is a microcosm of all those who will be affected by our libraries closing. While I am relieved to hear that libraries will not be shutting their doors, the fact our county is laying off library workers and shedding services has made me a very impassioned mother.
I am angered that I voted on an increase in my taxes, yet it will be my children, and other middle class and lower middle class families and individuals who will suffer. What is a school without teachers but a hollow shell? What is a library without dedicated employees? It is a edifice devoid of intellect, creativity and warmth. I am tired of these ‘cuts’ coming at the cost of the middle class in this city. I cannot afford to take my children to the movies every month, or buy them the newest videogame – what I have been able to offer them is finding knowledge within books, learning to play with others while listening to story time, introducing them to early computer skills through the computers set up exclusively for children at our library.
This is not just a children’s issue either. This is an issue for all adults. When I was building my photography business about five years ago, I checked out book after book at our library – reading as much about cameras, film and the history of photography that I could get my hands on. The library is a gem of a resource for those of us looking to hone our craft, apply online for jobs, and sometimes just forget our worries in a good book.
I urge you all to attend the public hearings, and if you can’t do that I understand – but write your commissioners, email them, stop by their office – let them know this is worth our tax money.