Public support may help spare library cuts
Haywood County will likely be spared this year from the proposed statewide budget cut for all libraries thanks to the local community members who spoke up in support of our library system.
Even though Gov. Pat McCrory’s state budget proposes a 4-percent cut to library aid, Haywood County Library Director Sharon Woodrow told residents in Fines Creek that Haywood is not likely to be affected just yet.
Woodrow previously was worried about another decrease in funding, which would have tasked her with some pretty tough decisions. With a majority of the library budget going toward personnel costs, closing down a library branch, either in Fines Creek or Maggie Valley, could be the only answer.
However, Woodrow and library staffers were proactive and started a petition for library support. About 2,000 people signed the petition that went to our legislators. It just shows that local residents can still have an impact in Raleigh by voicing their concerns and speaking up for the programs they support.
Although the role of local libraries is changing, they are still vital assets to communities, especially for rural communities like Fines Creek. Without the library to provide Internet access, many residents would not other means to receive that service. Internet service is now a needed utility for students to complete homework projects and for adults who need to pay bills or even search for a job.
Thank you to the library employees and Haywood County residents for taking the time to write, email and place calls to our representatives and senators to explain why the library system’s services are important.
But it doesn’t mean we are in the clear. As budgets continue to be tightened and services continue to be cut at the state level — library funding will surely be back on the chopping block next year.
It will be important in the future to save where we can locally and support the library by participating in the many programs it offers, volunteering when needed or even purchasing books at the Friends of the Library annual book sale coming up this summer. All the money raised goes back into supporting the library.