In all the discussion about what we aren't allowed to say from our pulpits, I've been forgetting to say something I can legally say from the pulpit or anywhere: I hereby endorse the Jackson District Library's operating millage on their November ballot! I, personally (as our church has not taken an official stand on this), encourage people to vote in support of their local libraries!
Whew. Glad to have that off my chest.
Our church is very much blessed by the presence of our district library. We have banded together with the library to co-produce our very successful commUnity forUm series. The library also heads up the "Big Read" initiative with grant money from the NEA Big Read, and we've tapped into the Big Read program for the last couple of years (2009 book: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck).
This millage is not the same as the last millage for the library. That millage, which failed, would've provided for expansion of the library. We would've benefited from that, as it included a community room that would be locked separately. Our forums could've gone longer, without the trouble of special permission from the library to do so. And, and this is the real kicker, it would've included a little coffee shop. I think half the reason I spend so much at bookstores is because the library doesn't have a coffee shop. The other half of the reason is the hours. Alas, this millage didn't pass, and we, as a community, lost out on these possibilities.
This millage, on the other hand, just lets the library continue operating as it has been. It doesn't provide for expansion at all. It just lets our library continue operating as it has been, which is something that they won't be able to do if it doesn't pass. It's imperative that we vote yes on this, unless we want to see our community just go further into decline.
Libraries are more than a place for books, these days. Our forums, alone, show how the library is a center for community. The library provides all sorts of programming to a wide variety of ages and types of people. The library provides space for groups in the community to meet without charge. The library, increasingly, is used as a spot for technology accessibility for those who don't have the resources to purchase computers and internet access themselves.
I know we are having a hard time in this community. And I know that the millage means more money taken from each of us. But in hard economic times, people use their libraries more. I know people who have cut down on subscriptions because of the economic times--those periodicals can be found at the library. If you've had to cut down on internet, that can be found on the library. You can rent (at a small, small cost) DVDs at the library. You can find the latest books at the library without purchasing them at hardcover prices. And we're blessed to have a library with so many branches, making it more accessible to people who have limited transportation means, or just people who are trying to cut down on mileage.
If you'd like to hear a nice NPR piece on how library usage goes up in hard economic times, here's one: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93041368
And for the full text of the millage, read here: http://jackson.lib.mi.us/proposal