Good evening. My name is Sam Freedenberg and I am chairman of the Aspen Hill Library Advisory Committee. I have lived in Montgomery County for 18 years and reside on Eades Street in Rockville. I have come here this evening to speak to the Council in support of the County Executive's proposed library budget for the coming fiscal year.
When I last addressed the Council 4 years ago we were in a quite different political and economic climate. At that time I spoke against proposed cuts in staffing that would have severely curtailed the level of service that our libraries could offer to the citizens of the County. Fortunately, that year, and in the years that followed, the Council came through for the County and I believe successfully balanced the needs of the community that are served by the libraries with other critical needs, such as public safety, transportation, and schools.
Our library system remains one of the finest in the country and contributes greatly to the quality of life that distinguishes Montgomery County.
I urge the Council to approve the proposed budget for the library system, including the recommended amount of nearly $800,000 in additional funding for library materials to allow the collection to grow and to keep pace with the needs of the citizens of our growing and diversifying county.
I felt that the Council might like to hear a few brief comments not only from those of us addressing you tonight but also from other folks who use Montgomery County libraries. Recently we asked patrons of the Aspen Hill Community Library to tell us how the County library has made a difference to them, personally or professionally. Please note that we obtained their permission to use their comments in our testimony.
One gentleman wrote: "The Aspen Hill branch and other branches have been invaluable to me and to my family since 1967 as a resource for academic reference materials (including for my doctoral dissertation and other scholarly work) . . . "
Another patron told us: "My wife, 3 children and I use the county libraries for everything from obtaining financial investing advice to vacation travel guides. But most importantly, the libraries have provided us with a wide range of reading materials that we could not otherwise obtain and that have educated my children and turned them into excellent readers and students. Without being able to read, not much else in life is attainable (or understandable)."
A literacy tutor wrote: "[T]he library has provided a marvelous setting for working with my adult student. It is centrally located, privacy and quiet are guaranteed and there is a wealth of reading material available at her level. The staff has been most cooperative in . . . suggesting reading sources. I would absolutely have less success without the resources of the Aspen Hill Library."
And, last, another citizen reponded: "The public library in Montgomery County is truly outstanding. The library system here clearly distinguishes the county from many areas of the country I have previously lived in; it is local, well-stocked, [has] excellent hours, and has terrific support. I would strongly recommend maintaining the current budget for what is a jewel for the county. The effect of reducing services for what is an immeasurable benefit for myself and my school-age children would be a shortsighted mistake that would be felt for years."
This patron called our library system "a jewel." Yes, it is a jewel, but it is no luxury, locked in a case like the Hope Diamond. It is indispensable. It improves our lives, helps us grow, learn and succeed. And, we all hope, it helps us become better citizens.
Like a fine gem our library system is an investment that needs attention, protection and care from responsible people. Again, I support this budget for our library system, and I ask you to support it as well. Thank you very much.
Like A Fine Gem
Three Days a Week
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