|Plainfield children working on jigsaw puzzle in Children's Library|
By now, many residents have read of the mayor's desire to cut funding for our free public library again--this is unconscionable. Our library is one of the best in the state, and has received more awards than any other that I am aware of. Our director was named New Jersey State Librarian of the Year, among other prestigious awards! As other city residents have noted, the library is the largest community resource in our city, offering EVERY member of our community access to learning, literacy, and workforce development. It bears repeating that the Plainfield library offers the ONLY GED program in Plainfield.
If one cares about the employment prospects of the youth who, for whatever reason, have not completed a high school diploma, the cutbacks--which will certainly affect this program--will be devastating. The library offers math and literacy programs, and the use of computers to the folks who do not have access to the Internet unless they come to the library. The library meeting rooms are used extensively by volunteer organizations such as Literacy Volunteers of America and other neighborhood and community groups. The library is also opening a job center for the Plainfield community with additional computers for those who are looking for work.
The library has logged over 9,000 volunteer hours in the past year--something not matched by any other city agency. The Local History Room has been invaluable to longtime Plainfielders who have traced their roots! This year, they have issued 3,000 new library cards, mostly to our children! n addition, the employees have not received a raise in years--unlike other city employees. The library has also seen an increase in book checkouts--about 3,000 more in the 1st quarter of 2012 versus the same quarter in 2011--amazing!
As Board President Anne Robinson (who is a volunteer) noted, most jobs are now offered online, and folks need the access in order to look. Given Plainfield's high unemployment rate, it is inconceivable that the chief executive of a municipality such as Plainfield would willfully deny the residents in the community the opportunity to do job searches.
In addition, the Children's Room at the library has seen a huge increase in use--it is a state of the art facility--don't our children deserve that? Cuts to funding would reduce the hours of the Children's Room to virtually nothing.
Meanwhile, those who have been attending the budget hearing have been seeing firsthand what the mayor thinks is important--I urge everyone to come out and see for him or herself what this administration has in mind.