At last night’s Maplewood Township Committee meeting, the Maplewood Library Board of Trustees asked the Township Committee to pass a resolution stating Maplewood’s opposition to Governor Chris Christie’s proposed funding cuts to the New Jersey Library Network, as well as stating opposition to Assembly bill A2555, which would eliminate the minimum local funding requirement of municipal libraries.
Library Board of Trustees spoke in favor of the resolution
Two members of the Library Board of Trustees spoke on behalf of the resolution. President of the Board, Katherine Hilaire, said that Governor Christie’s budget calls for a 74% decrease in funding for statewide library services. The library website spells out what this means for Maplewood residents.
Carol Buchanan, also on the Board, spoke in favor of the resolution and against A2555, which would allow towns to fund, or not fund, libraries however they wished. Libraries, she said, are simply “too important to become another political football.” Ms. Buchanan said that Maplewood has been lucky to have a Township Committee that recognizes the value of the Library and the vital role it plays in the town. Maplewood has gone beyond the minimum funding requirements but Ms Buchanan worries that, without a minimum requirement, the Library could suffer in the future under different leadership.
Local advocates spoke up for the town’s libraries
Two town residents also spoke in favor of the Library’s resolution. Pamela Erens said “few entities contribute so much for so little cost.” Libraries offer a quiet place for residents to work and study, a social hub for children and adults, and resources for the unemployed. With state funding being slashed, said Ms. Erens, consistent municipal funding is now more important than ever.
Town resident Susan Joseph began by quoting from the New York Public Library’s core values: “Only the finest of everything is good enough for the least of us.” That core value resonated with her, she said, because our local library, and libraries all over, serve everyone regardless of economic situation. In a society that is already too divided into the haves and the have-nots, the potential loss of library services is particularly troubling.
Committee debated the issue
Later in the evening, the Township Committee debated the merits of the Library’s proposal. All agreed that Maplewood should formally state its opposition to Governor Christie’s proposed cuts to the state library system; this portion of the Library’s proposal passed unanimously. However, the Committee disagreed on Assembly bill A2555. Only Mayor Vic DeLuca was in favor of passing this part of the resolution. Since all other Committee members expressed support for A2555, Mayor DeLuca declined to move the resolution for a vote.
State-wide protest in Trenton scheduled for Thursday, May 6, 11am
While the Library’s resolution for the Town of Maplewood to oppose A2555 was defeated last night, a large state-wide protest will take place tomorrow in Trenton, organized by the New Jersey Library Association (NJLA). Buses will leave by 9am from points throughout the state, and many more protesters are expected to carpool and take public transport. A Facebook event page, New Jersey Library Rally, has been created to help organize. (If you attend, please wear red. Some tee-shirts will be available from the NJLA, only large and extra-large, for $6.50.) More information on tomorrow’s Statehouse rally can be found on the NJLA’s web page. A website, Save My NJ Library, has also been set up for tomorrow’s rally and for general advocacy; the group also has a Facebook page.
To keep up to date on issues affecting the state of New Jersey, please click “subscribe” above. It’s free. You can also find the Newark Progressive Examiner on Facebook.