Library Mondays with Addison

April 7th, 2011 © by Susan Swartz

A bouquet of daffodils sat on the library’s front desk Monday morning. It was a burst of sunny hope on a black news day. That morning’s newspaper reported that Sonoma County libraries, including ours in Sebastopol, are the latest victims of budget cuts and will be slicing hours and personnel. And the library will be closed on Mondays.

Mondays are our library days. Addison’s and mine. Our granddaughter is almost five and has been coming to our house in Sebastopol every Monday since she was a baby. From the time she gave up her morning nap, she and I have made the library our Monday morning ritual.

I counted roughly 40 customers when the library opened on that bad news Monday. Lots of familiar and long faces.

Addison and I walk to the library on Mondays. She waves hello to the front desk and she goes to the right to find her books – she’s now into the I Can Read, beginning series. I turn left to the reserved section and we meet at a couch in the children’s corner to read. Then we check out, stop at the fountain out front to toss in pennies and make wishes, head over to the cookie store and visit a few shops on the way home.

The library is pivotal. When I forget it’s a Monday holiday and we arrive to find a “closed” sign we’re both disappointed. The first time it happened she asked, “How can a library be closed?” as if it was the most bewildering betrayal.

Come the next Monday she walked in and said, “We missed you guys” to her friends at the front desk.

Painful cuts caused by reduced tax revenues have caught up with the library. The cutbacks will include layoffs and affect children’s programs and class visits. Like with everything else that serves the public good now being axed we are urged to recognize that tough times require necessary sacrifices until things get back to normal.

Libraries are our normal. They’re such predictable civilized places. Business is conducted in soft voices. Well-behaved children are as welcome as well-behaved adults to browse and read and take home books. Return in three weeks. It’s an excellent place to teach little kids to respect other people’s privacy and property, called a lending library because its books are to be shared, not scribbled in, nor lost under a bed.

Addison and I are part of the library community. The librarians comment on her book choices and her colorful fashion sense – the purple striped dress with leopard tights was a big hit. Once we met a man from another town who forgot his library card but could still get books because he’d memorized all 12 numbers on his card.

When her baby brother Theo was born Addison announced it to everyone in line at the checkout desk. Theo was going to be our next Monday regular but given the news, that probably won’t happen.

Book-wise our grandkids will be okay. They have enough relatives who love to read and give books as presents. But we’ll miss our Library Mondays.

The economy is hurting everyone but I don’t think cutting here, slashing there is forward-thinking. We keep hearing about how we must cut spending now in order to protect our grandchildren’s future. But what kind of future are we giving them by whittling away at libraries and schools and swim centers?

Addison’s future is now. Addison’s future is next Monday.

TO LOCALS: That said, here’s one way to help the libraries. On April 23 the Sonoma County Public Library Foundation and the Sonoma County Book Festival will put on a dinner featuring more than a dozen Bay Area authors. You get to drink wine, mingle and dine with well known writers inside the downtown Santa Rosa library. For information and tickets go to the Sonoma County Public Library Foundation website, www.scplf.org.

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5 Responses to “Library Mondays with Addison”

  1. MidgieMay Says:

    I seriously DOUBT that the Foundation will help with the budget of the Library. Why should anyone give them money? The money they raise goes God-knows-where, and WILL NOT and HAS NEVER been put toward the general programs, or salaries of any employees, that helps to actually run the Library. Why don’t you do an IN DEPTH interview with THEM & find out what they do with all the money they raise, or plan to raise in the future?

  2. sophie jensen Says:

    Another step in our national dumbing-down :-(

  3. Ted Says:

    Hi,
    i talked with one ofthe commisioners who is in charge of the decisions and was told that the Library has n money and is not allowed to tap reserves to affect this change in hours. That seemed crazy to me.
    How is that not an emergency.There must be a way we can talk to the mayor or someone to help this situation at the Library.

  4. Michele Says:

    Susan, as a member of the Foundation, let me just say that any one of our members would be happy to do an in-depth interview with you to discuss exactly how the money we raise is allocated. Thanks for the wonderful piece!

  5. Dena Bliss Says:

    Dear Susan, I am letting you know that I am organizing a Save Our Libraries meeting, which will be held Monday, Jun 20 6-8 pm in the Forum Room at the Sebastopol Library.
    We are going to get creative about making sure that the libraries meet the needs of our communities.

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