Why Libraries in Miami Are More Important Than Ever
As The Dissident, J.J. Colagrande turns his critical eye on Miami culture. This week: Closing 22 libraries in Miami? You've gotta be kidding.
Closing almost half of the city libraries is wrong on so many levels, and it's time for a quick call-to-action to ensure that Mayor Carlos Gimenez changes his mind, before it's too late.
In case you didn't hear, the mayor, in a last minute reversal of plans, has flipped his position on raising property taxes, and instead, has decided to recommend cuts in community services.
According to the Miami Herald, the library system as well as the Fire Department would be hit the hardest. In a "worst case scenario," six fire stations would close down, and 22 libraries.
Not surprisingly, most of the libraries are in poor neighborhoods.
Let's be clear: libraries are more important than ever. Granted, the digital age is transforming how we read and gather information. But libraries are still central to that process. The primary purpose of a library is to offer access for the public to free information. Information and education do not grow on trees, after all.
Adults may be using libraries for Internet access more than books, but online access is still an essential service. A recent New York Times article cites: "More than a quarter of all adults used the Internet at a library during the past year. The numbers are higher for blacks and Latinos than for whites."
Additionally, almost one-third of adults in the U.S. do not subscribe to the Internet at home. That number is higher for African-Americans and Latinos. Imagine having no access to the Internet. How are those trying to improve their lives supposed to apply for jobs, research health care options, manage their money, or plan their children's futures?