Editorial: County, city should save our libraries
Renee Campbell, publisher
Jim Patterson, editor
Clay Thorp, reporter
Pete Pleasant, community representative
Desiree Moore, ommunity representative
Contact the Editorial Board at editor@CraigDailyPress.com.
Editor’s note: Editor Jim Patterson was unable to attend this week’s Editorial Board meeting and did not participate in the development of this position.
Ever since the publication of Sidney Ditzion’s Arsenals of Democratic Culture and other publications of the 1940s that immortalized the importance of public libraries into American culture, the public library has often been the pride of every American city you visit.
Libraries became cultural community centers for learning, for growth and discovering possibility. They host community events, dance halls, art exhibits, music recitals, and so much more.
In small towns across Colorado, the public library is often on the register of historic places and the heart of the community. It acts as a gathering place for seniors who can congregate or read while enjoying the company of their friends and neighbors.
Here in Craig, the Moffat County Library system offers year-round library events like story time for kids at the Craig Branch, a summer reading program to keep kids sharp during their three months off, a winter reading program for kids, a youth club, the ready-set-read program, the 1,000 books before kindergarten program, and baby book bags.
Libraries and the important programs they offer came about because Americans collectively decided an educated nation with free access to information is a free nation. Americans decided in order to truly be free, we must have free or low-cost access to information in order to make informed decisions about everything — from how much flour to put in a cookie recipe to how much money was cut from the library budget in Moffat County to save a few bucks every year.
These days, it seems the collective investment in our libraries, in our freedom, is beginning to crumble.
These days, libraries are often used by the poorest among us who don’t have regular access to the internet — or a printer, or counseling on how to properly fill out and submit a resume, or any of the many technological advances we may take for granted in today’s digital age.
Closing down the library or shortening library hours in any way has real effects on our community.
That bright, troubled neighborhood kid with nowhere else to go but an abusive home — he can’t go to the library if it’s closed.
That spry, but elderly lady who lives down the street and volunteers her time reading to kids every chance she gets — she can’t go to the library if it’s closed.
The aspiring lawyer or doctor, the mechanically inclined high school senior who wants to hone their engineering skills, the gifted artist who wants to try their hand at architecture, the musician who wants to learn how to write a symphony — they can’t go to the library if it’s closed.
In a community with a need for a more diversified economy, a library is fertile ground for innovation and wealth creation.
That’s why county and city officials should do everything in their power to continually fund our libraries — to extend library hours for residents of all walks of life. These officials should never be allowed to cut the one thing that could help so many Craig residents climb out of their economic hardships and contribute to our changing economy.
Without a vibrant library in Craig, our freedom really is at stake and officials should remember that and cut something else when it comes budget time.
In today’s digital age, it isn’t comforting to know Craig hasn’t yet fully joined the rest of the industrialized world’s instant interconnectedness brought about by fast and reliable internet.