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Library Funding Cuts

July 26, 1994

We are seeing a great institution--the public library--wither away for lack of public funds. Politicians heeding the cry for more police, jails, etc. are neglecting to cherish and support this institution that offers lifelong education and opportunity for people of all ages and that can be a positive preventive force in keeping children away from criminal activities.

County supervisors debating how to allot dwindling funds must be urged to continue and even to increase funding for the County Library System. And cities should be urged to accept a greater share of the real costs of running and providing background support for the branches that benefit the cities in their communities.

For the last two years money that traditionally funded our libraries has been pulled away by the state. Without this base and without the contribution from the General Fund that county supervisors made last year, we would have practically no library service in the county jurisdictions. As it is, staffing is meager, hours open are pitiful, particularly for the best resource library in the system--Foster Library-- and money for the purchase of new materials is practically nonexistent.

Efforts at private fund-raising have helped augment the collections but can't begin to meet the ongoing costs of providing library service and materials. A statewide attempt to pass a bill (SB 1448-Roberti), which would allow localities to propose benefit assessment financing for libraries and which would require notification before assessments are imposed, may offer some future hope. But those of us who love libraries should let our supervisors and city councils know we want them to adequately fund our financially strapped county libraries now.

CATHERINE J. PENPRASE, Port Hueneme

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