Everywhere the public library systems' funding has been slashed and slashed and slashed again -- this even before the Big Bubble Burst of last August.
Public assistance, education, libraries, art and museums, and health care are where budget cuts in bad times are always made first, and made most deeply, the very public services that populations everywhere turn to in times of economic despair. Public transportation is also on that list of first, deepest and continuing cuts if you live where there is any public transport-- the budgets are slashed, services are cut, and the price of usage is increased.
If these are not regressive charges upon the public that has not been responsible in any way for creating the global economy, please tell me what a regressive tax is.
In Europe, Merkle, for instance, isn't panting to join in Obama's and the U.S.'s ideas of how to handle this Depression 02. They are counting on their social safety net of housing subsidies, health care, and all the rest that Europeans' taxes pay for, to carry them through, rather than throwing billions and billions at their banks and dying corps. We here, of course, don't have a safety net ....
Here is one public library's story (in Arlington Heights, a well-to-do suburb of Chicago), but I see this same story played out in front of my eyes right here, and I hear the same story from friends all over the country.
The article includes stories from other libraries around the country:
[ "In Sacramento this year, two branches of the public library temporarily stopped accepting cash as fines for overdue books, after thieves struck three times since June — in one instance, taking off with a safe filled with money." ]
[ "In Lynchburg, Va., a gunman shot a man outside the public library on a Monday afternoon in late January. The victim, who survived, staggered into the library bleeding and looking for help. Since then, an off-duty police officer has been hired by the library for extra security." ]
[ "And in Quincy, Mass., where a man was recently arrested in the library and charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, among other offenses, a police officer on beat patrol now walks through the library during operating hours." ]
Libraries have been dangerous places for a long time -- in some places, such as Albquequerque, the university libraries are the worst, attracting predators of all kinds -- which is why some decades back it got difficult to enter a university library (or any other facility) without I.D. Not that this has stopped terrible events from taking place in them or other university facilities -- I'm thinking particularly of some stories from Tulane, at the moment.
But our public libraries deserve so much more from this nation. There are reasons why one of the primary indicators of a 'successful' state is a national library.