Library cuts are draconian
The budget cuts that County Executive Ike Leggett proposes for the library system are unwarranted. The County Council has already approved a $1.6 million cut, and if the council agrees to Leggett's proposal to cut an additional $1.08 million, this would result in a reduction of 7.12 percent, a greater percentage of cuts than any agency except the county attorney's office.
How can Leggett justify this proposal to the half of the county's residents, who hold library cards? The county's residents depend on libraries, especially during hard times, to access computers, to look for jobs, affordable housing, and educational opportunities. This is why usage of the library in Rockville alone is up 14 percent. The early literacy programs libraries provide enable our most vulnerable residents, preschoolers, to embark on successful career [paths]. Libraries provide services for the handicapped, for new business entrepreneurs, for those who need legal materials and access to federal government documents. Libraries have special collections in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Russian and Vietnamese these enable our newest immigrants to become part of our national community.
I understand that the county's financial shortfall presents a difficult problem for the executive, but the job of an executive is not just an administrative job that is concentrated on bookkeeping. At bottom, the county executive's job is one of moral leadership, to promote the general welfare by enabling its citizens to become educated and successful. I urge Leggett to look to his conscience, re-examine his mission and to withdraw his proposed draconian cuts for the library system.
Jacques B. Gelin, Rockville