The following editorial appeared Jan. 6 in the Chicago Tribune.
Picture a city without a public library, where books can’t be borrowed, where kids can’t gather in a reliably safe and friendly place after school, and where computers are only available to those who can afford them.
Salinas, Calif., which spawned Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck, may soon be such a place, a city of 150,000 without a precious resource of knowledge or symbol of community.
The Salinas City Council, strapped for cash, voted Dec. 14 to shut its library system, including branches named after Steinbeck and labor leader Cesar Chavez. The system – budgeted at $3 million annually – circulates 4 million items a year and serves 1,900 people daily. …
So what will be lost in Salinas, and perhaps elsewhere, if such a trend starts in California and crosses the nation?
Libraries are more than repositories of books, magazines, newspapers, computers and videos. They’re places for children to learn a love of reading, for students to find a quiet space to study and for seniors to settle in a chair with a good novel or a well-thumbed daily paper.
They’re open to all, rich and poor, equal access for public services. An inquisitive mind and a thirst for knowledge are the only keys for entry.
Need to find a job or learn how to use a computer? It can be done at a library. …
Libraries are worth saving, in Salinas and throughout America.
Local journalism is essential.
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