My library tax dollars are perhaps the best value around
To the Editor:
As one of the 32,997 residents of Guilderland who were not interviewed on a local TV channel’s “exposé” of the “wasted tax dollars” and “junk mail” report last week, I felt it might be nice to hear from the other side, regarding the quarterly library newsletter and monthly activities card that informs us of what is happening at the Guilderland Public Library.
The library is, after all, tax-funded and we have a right to know, don’t we? Evidently not, because, according to the three people the reporter chose to interview, two said they threw the papers away and the third reluctantly perused it, threw it away, but said that the library needed to let the community know about things.
Based on those three, the TV reporter said “many of you” consider this “junk mail”!
How difficult would it have been to find three people out of the thousands in Guilderland who like getting these materials? Maybe if she had asked a few of the hundreds of people entering or leaving the library what they thought of the mailers, she would have had a more “fair and balanced” report.
“Many” of them would probably have said what I would have said — that I tape the card to my cupboard to remind me of the programs and mark the ones I want to attend on my calendar. Even though I retired from the library several years ago, I use it even more now, as do many others on limited incomes. The library is popular with people of all ages. The newsletters/cards are a great reminder for all of us with busy lives.
I don’t think the reporter really “crunched the numbers,” since, by my calculations, the $14,000 cost works out to .004 of 1 percent of the budget! That is just a few cents for each household. To me, it is well worth it.
Out of curiosity, I called several of the nearby libraries to see how they let their patrons know about their programs and activities. One mails its newsletter to all of its residents, just like Guilderland does. Another library has it online, as well as available in print, and another mails to any patron who wants it, as well as has them available in the library free to anyone (even non-residents!)
I kept asking myself why Guilderlalnd was being singled out as a “tax-waster,” when they are getting information out in much the same way as those nearby libraries. Why did the report keep the banner “Junk Mail” across the screen even when it became obvious that it was not junk!
I guess that is my question: Why? Why did this report, which I felt was not fair at all and assumed we all consider the newsletter “garbage,” air at all, and why did it air when it did? It became evident at the end of the so-called “report,” when the reporter told us we could vote on the library budget.
I hope that those who saw this were as repulsed by it as I was and let their voices be heard at the polls in favor of the budget. I, for one, feel my library tax dollars are perhaps the best value around.
Editor’s note: Cherry Neil worked as the head of Youth Services at the Guilderland Public Library, leaving in 2007.
See related “From the editor” commentary.