On a recent visit to my local library, I couldn’t help but notice the buzz of activity—a mother reading to her toddler, children and adults taking advantage of computer and Internet access, a middle-aged gentleman working with spread sheets on his laptop, and a line of people at the main desk waiting to check out items.
As secretary of the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation’s board, I know well that the Indianapolis public library is a superb investment. You may not realize, however, that our library system, rated annually as among the best in the nation, stands at a major crossroads as it deals with significant cutbacks in funding and service hours.
Beyond the fact that over 5 million people visit the library each year, outpacing all our major professional sports and cultural attractions combined, the library serves as an essential pillar in preparing our young ones for academic success. Its early-childhood education activities foster information literacy and a love of reading. The Summer Reading Program alone attracts over 55,000 children each year.
Our library’s commitment to lifelong education and equal access to information for all citizens is reflected in such services as the research expertise provided for local businesses and individuals, the one-on-one help to the displaced worker to upgrade computer skills, and even the new technology for users of e-readers to download books from the library’s website.
It stands as a bastion of civic activity.
The political crossroads facing our library centers now on the City-County Council. The recent outpouring of citizen support to maintain library funding led to bipartisan efforts in the Legislature to grant the council authority to assign the library a share of County Option Income Tax revenue. All of us who care about our libraries hope the council will give this option its fullest consideration.
President, RJE Business Interiors
Board member, IMCPL Foundation