Testimony at Montgomery County Council Budget Hearing
5 April 2005

Hi, I’m Paulette Dickerson. I am the Chairman of the Chevy Chase Library Advisory Committee.

Often when I come before you I talk about my own family of readers, but this time I’d like to bear witness for another, larger family.

The family of Montgomery County Residents...

Libraries are vital public spaces that can define, refine and focus the communities that they serve.

Besides the obvious in-house and internet materials— recordings, reference collections, wifi access within branches, access to print materials and databases that span the breadth of human knowledge— libraries are also meeting places, community centers and hang outs for teens after school.

For new residents, and that includes newborn children, the best entryway to success is through literacy.

There are special library programs geared to infants, toddlers and preschoolers that help to set them on that path. The first “public” schooling of reading often comes during storytime at the library.

Library programs give adults and teens with limited fluency tutoring, computer training, conversation clubs and materials in their native tongues to augment what they cannot easily access in English. Libraries develop the groundwork for upward mobility.

Schoolchildren find homework materials, a place to meet their peers, books for recreational reading and a quiet place to study. A library is a haven that nurtures lifetime learning.

The Chevy Chase Library community and others have been sending postcards to elected officials to let you all know how we feel about library service.

Patrons have eloquently described a utopia of knowledge. They have talked of books the system does not have. Some have complained about fines or fees. A surprising number of people have invoked the need of others as their main concern when library cutbacks happen.

One of the kids who uses the Chevy Chase Library has filled out a card every couple of weeks. I think she does it whenever her family comes to the branch.

Public schools and public libraries are the main windows of opportunity for teaching and maintaining our history, our culture, our society, our civilization— keeping our family functional.

Public schools absorb half of the county budget— the public libraries’ appropriation is less than 1%. Since active library users represent half of the county’s residents, the disconnect on fiscal support seems shocking.

I have brought you a list of this week’s library programs— I think you’ll be surprised at the depth and breadth of those offerings.

Walt Disney once said “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main...”

Let’s protect that treasure for everyone in the Montgomery County family.

Fully fund library service.

Thank you.

Chance favors the prepared mind—
Louis Pasteur

Paulette Dickerson P.O. Box 598 Kensington, MD. 20895-0598
Private Citizen / Library Advocate

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Send comments or suggestions to:
E-Mail: "pdickerson (at) hers.com"
Paper Mail: Paulette Dickerson, P.O.Box 598, Kensington, MD 20895-0598, USA

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