I’m Gonna Get All Political Here for a Second

h1 June 13th, 2007 by jules

image taken from www.library.nashville.org; please click on the image itself to visit the site for the Nashville Public LibraryJules here. Quick post that is not a book review (or blogger interview or author interview or Poetry Friday or a 7-Kicks list — hmmm, I guess we need to stop saying we stick to book reviews only here at 7-Imp!). Incidentally, I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve done a proper review myself, but what with Eisha’s heroic 48-Hour Book Challenge efforts and the two of us getting ready for next week’s Summer Blog Blast Tour (more on that later), whew, we’re busy. I should have two children’s poetry anthology reviews for this Poetry Friday.

Anyway, back to what I was saying . . .

Here’s the thing: I have no clue as to how many middle Tennessee readers we have. I do know, amazingly enough, that we have readers all over the country — the world, for that matter — and we have publishers and agents and authors and illustrators reading our blog. It’s a bit odd that I know that for a fact, yet I’m not sure how many readers we have here in Tennessee (or even the South), where one-half of 7-Imp (Yours Truly) lives.

But, I’m going to post this anyway for any middle Tennessee readers we may have (and I’m going to email this post to every person I know in middle Tennessee!). And even if you don’t live here, this is an issue that repeats itself all over the country and affects librarians and library-lovers everywhere, so you may want to read anyway.

Here’s the low-down: The Nashville Public Library rocks and rocks hard. In particular, their story time events at the big, beautiful, main downtown library are truly impressive. It’s some high-quality children’s programming; trust me on this. They have three performers who do their story times — together, they constitute Wishing Chair Productions (who have no web presence, though I wish they did so that I could show you more about them. Incidentally, they carry on the wonderful tradition Tom Tichenor began in 1938 with his marionette productions). I’ve posted about them before (here and here). I’m tellin’ ya, I’ve never. seen. better. library. programming. These three performers seem to have talent seeping out of their toes. As I heard another parent say recently, while at the library, their story times are one of the best things about Nashville. They’re that good.

So, not only is the Nashville Public Library system a well-run, thoroughly excellent system, but the children’s programming offered at the main branch is top-notch. But, ALAS! and ALACK! Read this. Here’s an excerpt for those of you in a hurry:

“The Nashville Public Library (NPL) will have to stop opening its five largest branch libraries on Sundays, and it will have to close the Main Library downtown for an additional 10 hours weekly if the Metro Council approves Mayor Bill Purcell’s 2007-2008 library operating budget as the administration has proposed it, NPL director Donna Nicely said last week.

Nicely told The City Paper she has been asked to identify roughly $800,000 in library budget cuts and said closing the libraries on Sundays, when they are the least used, would least affect the public.

The budget cut also would force a cut in staffing hours equating the loss of 18 full-time staffing positions, she said.”

— from The City Paper; write-up by Bill Harless; April 16, 2007

We’re looking at reduced hours for the beautiful main downtown library and other branches (and no Sunday hours for those branches), and — as a result — we’re looking at the complete eradication of one of the story times offered. It just so happens that I attend — with my wee daughters — the story time that is in danger of being cut, but that’s not the sole reason I’m posting this call-to-arms. This is why: Well, Bellevue-area Councilman Charlie Tygard said it well in the aforelinked City Paper article —

“We spent millions of dollars to build a world-class library system, and then we don’t place a priority on keeping the doors open for the public — so that makes little sense to me.”

Why else am I posting this call-to-action?

The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.

— Carl Sagan

Word. I’m just so tired of hearing about library cuts all over everywhere. Sigh. There are better ways to cut funds than at the very place that defines democracy-in-action (“Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.” — Lady Bird Johnson. Can you tell I’ve scoured favorite books for favorite library quotes?).

So, if you live in middle Tennessee (or even if you don’t and can somehow make your voice heard), please contact your Metropolitan council members. Here’s the link to make it really easy for you (there are email links at that link as well). Tell them how much you value your library and the fine children’s programming at the main one. I drive all the way from Rutherford County to experience the stellar programming by The Wishing Chair Productions at the main library, but I can at least contact the Council Members at Large and tell them that I pay for this service and how much I value the Nashville Public Library system. I’ll do what I can if you do what you can. Let’s fight to keep the wonderful children’s programming active and frequent — and to keep the library doors open as often as they currently are.

(According to The City Paper write-up linked here in this post, the Metro Council has until June 30 to complete the 2007-2008 Metro operating budget, so make your voice heard soon}.

7 comments to “I’m Gonna Get All Political Here for a Second”

  1. Jules, best of luck with that. What a sad situation, when I’m sure money gets wasted all over that government in ways that benefit all sorts of people except the regular folks like us.

    Good luck, and good for you! Don’t give up.

  2. Sundays were THE day to go the downtown public library when I was a kid. I looked forward to it all week.

    I wish I were still registered to vote in Tennessee…
    What you need is some big music star to say he/she takes her kids to the Nashville library. Better yet, said music star could kick in the 800,000 dollars.

  3. One of the dearest people in my life lives about 45 minutes out of Nashville, so I forwarded this to her. She’s one of the most determined people I know, and I imagine she’ll make some noise. We were going through a downward spiral at the Central Library here in Rochester for a few years — cut after cut after cut. (The biggest loss was the bookmobile, which is sold and gone for the foreseeable future.) Things seem to be on a more positive roll lately, although they’ve also been having some fairly high-profile troubles with county leadership. I am glad I am not in the level of management that has to deal directly with these issues. If I was informed through the course of a public meeting, say, that my library’s budget was going to be cut drastically, I’d probably just stand up and start yelling, which is probably why I run a children’s department and not a whole library.

  4. Thanks, Adrienne! I hope she does make some noise.

    And thanks, too, Robin and Sara, for the comments and feedback.

  5. Thanks again for the heads-up, Jules. Here’s what I just sent (there’s a nifty send-to-all-members option):

    “Good Morning All!

    I wanted to send a brief note of encouragement as you review budget requirements for our beautiful Nashville Public Library. The City Paper recently wrote about the possibility of budget cuts resulting in limited staffing and even closing the five downtown branches on Sundays. I’m sure you know how invaluable free information and community resources are to a citizenship and NPL is no exception. With brilliant children’s programming, the Nashville Room and other unmatched services, NPL deserves all the personal and monetary support it can get.

    An interesting side note: I live in Williamson County. I was alerted to the danger of NPL cuts by someone living in Rutherford County. The Nashville Public Library certainly has friends from all over that wish it a long and luxurious life.

    Thanks for your time, and I hope to see you soon at the library!

    Bryn Samuels”

  6. Bryn, THANKS! I love that someone from another county sent notes of concern, because it just reminds the council members that the Nashville Public Library is a regional library (I myself live in Rutherford County yet drive all the way in to downtown Nashville to take advantage of the stellar children’s programming; in fact, I pay for the privilege).

    Thanks again!

  7. […] Speaking of their story time, remember this? Well, the library funding didn’t get cut. Excellent. {See here — pretty funny stuff, […]

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