Unless you have been living in a cave for the last month you are probably aware of the fact that Miami-Dade County government, more specifically our mayor, Carlos Gimenez, and our county commissioners, have announced that due to the lack of sufficient revenue it is necessary to close 22 of our county libraries — that’s half our library system.
As of July 31, the office of the mayor had announced that they might be able to keep open six of those proposed to close. The change of heart libraries are: Culmer, Lakes of the Meadow, Lemon City, Little River, Opa-locka and Shenandoah.
Those slated to be closed are: California Club, Golden Glades, Civic Center Kiosk, Model City, North Shore, South Shore, Fairlawn, Virrick Park, Country Walk, Concord, Sunset, Tamiami, West Kendall Regional, Doral, Hialeah Gardens and Palm Springs North.
The problems for our communities, caused by the proposed closings, are horrendous. Let’s see what the closings will do for our community:
1. Voting locations. It seems every time I vote it’s in a library. With so many libraries closing, the county will have to rent facilities at election time. So some of the money saved with the proposed closings will be consumed to rent substitute voting sites.
2. Looking for a job? The best, actually the only way, to look for a job, is over the Internet. Where, if you are out of work and do not have a computer at home, do you go? You go to the library. Next time you visit a library check out the computers. You will find every one in use and a queue of people waiting for a computer to become available. Close the libraries and where will these individuals go?
3. Today, residents receiving unemployment checks must file a bi-weekly report identifying the places they contacted seeking employment. In the old days you went to the unemployment office and filed a report. Today you must go on a computer and file a report electronically. Close the libraries and where will everyone go?
4. Low on income? Need a book? Perhaps it costs too much to buy? You can’t find a bookstore open anyway so you go to the library? Close the libraries and where will you go?
5. County public meetings. Where are they held? More often than not in a local library. I have been to a number of county meetings at the West Kendall Regional Library. Close the libraries and the county must go out and rent facilities for such functions as community council meetings and the many other county functions.
6. Work for the county library system? Losing your job? You now can receive unemployment checks in lieu of a payroll check. How much money did the county actually save?
7. Keeping kids off the street. Parents, where would you prefer to see your teenage kids — at the library or in the alleyway behind a 7-11? I don’t know how the county selected the libraries on the “to close list.” I hope it was based upon neighborhood needs.
I don’t want my friends in Coral Gables to hate me but it would seem that the poorest Miami- Dade communities should be the last to close and the more affluent neighborhood the first to close.
Library closings and the non-funding of the proposed Pets’ Trust are the primary focus of the budget cuts. It’s absolutely necessary that the county estimate the cost of keeping the libraries open and fund the Pets’ Trust, which received a 75 percent community support at the polls.
The mayor and the commissioners must go into the community and tell all property owners “here is the cost to reverse our position.
We really need the libraries and you voted for the Pets’ Trust. Property owners of Miami-Dade, now that you know the minimal cost and have had time to digest the results of our position, tell us you support the minimal real estate tax increase.”
We really need it. Nothing in life is free.
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