Please support public libraries in Florida

It’s budget time again, and again we’re facing losing all our State Aid funding completely.  Here’s the letter I wrote Governor Charlie Crist today about maintaining State Aid at the current funding levels.  Please feel free to reuse the language in any way you see fit.  For more information, please see the Florida Library Association website.  You don’t have to write a personal letter like I did; there is an easy online email form with a generic sample letter to contact all the relevant legislators directly on ALA’s Florida Advocacy website.

Dear Governor
 
I know you are aware how important public libraries are to the economic health of Florida.  We support the most needy residents of the community as they try to improve their lives and safeguard their children.  We provide resume assistance, teach patrons how to use email, assist them in filling out job applications online, assist them in using Craigslist to find jobs, assist them in filing for unemployment, and provide invaluable investment data for retirees through expensive subscriptions like Valueline. 
 
Given your recent veto of SB6, for which we are grateful, I know you support education and educators in our state.  When schools close or when people are going back to school, the first place they stop is their local public library.  We provide access to research databases, the internet, and computer programs like Word and Powerpoint they need to succeed.  When students are unfamiliar with computer programs, we assist them to ensure their continued academic success.  In addition, we are the first stopping point for immigrants to our country who wish to learn English and most libraries provide space, materials, training and information for students and tutors.
 
If we fail to designate $21.2 million in State Aid funding, we will lose matching federal money.  Many libraries around the state, particularly in rural areas such as Hernando County, will close completely.  In our own Pinellas County, our cooperative is threatened with closure.  The cooperative funds the Deaf Services center, which provides literacy outreach, computer classes, and sign language classes to the deaf community and to adults and children in the community who want to learn sign language.  Our cooperative also pays for our county-wide library catalog, which allows us to efficiently share materials across the system and avoid costly duplication of titles.  Efficient resource sharing organized by the many regional cooperatives saves us millions of dollars statewide. 
 
Library programs and services provide a terrific return on investment.  We save taxpayers money and provide invaluable services available nowhere else.  Please continue to support us at the current level of $21.2 million and ensure the economic future of millions of Floridians who desperately need us.
 
Thank you for your service.
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