Author Anne Herbert wrote, “Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.” That is where we are now – in a time of no money. And we need strong libraries to get us through it. The economy is cyclical, and things will get better. Thus, our library system must be protected, to help us make a strong economic recovery.
In Middletown, recent financial decisions have put our library in jeopardy. The Middletown Township Committee is turning its backs on the library rather than working with the Library Board and the public to safeguard the library while taking steps to control costs. In a “he said, she said” budget battle over the use or misuse of funds, it is the public which loses.
As the Township Committee attempts to stay below the 2% cap on property tax hikes, it has eyed the dedicated Library Appropriation funds as a revenue source to dip into, for padding to the municipal budget. The siphoning of library funds began in 2011 with the demand for transfer of $500K from the library’s reserves. It continues today with significant overcharges to the library for some township-provided services. I fear that these money grabs will destroy our valued library system.
A robust and relevant library system that serves all citizens is an essential institution which should not be sacrificed in these difficult financial times. Please support our library at the Middletown Library Board meeting on February 20th at 7pm at the main branch on New Monmouth Road. The Board will be voting on its 2013 budget which reflects cuts that include the closures of the Navesink, Lincroft, and Bayshore branches.