Please don’t take away the libraries

April 6, 2010 — by Nandini Ruparel
Ruparel Nandini 11

Junior Nandini Ruparel.

Dear California State Budget Committee ,

Recently, I have been listening to the radio and reading the newspaper frequently. As a high schooler, I have started to realize that the budget crisis is on its way to affecting me personally. I know there are plans to cut health care, education funding and infrastructure spending. What really shocked me, however, was when I read that there are plans to cut library funds and close down public libraries across the state. I may be just a teenager, but I know that this would be a really terrible decision to make.

My public library—because, yes, it belongs to me, as well as the thousands of people who frequent it every month—has played an extremely important role in my life. You may think I’m exaggerating, but I have become who I am because of my exposure to books. It has instilled in me a love of reading that will last me my whole life. Without the library, I would have never known that the little engine “could,” I would have never seen how Dorothy really got home from Oz or Alice from Wonderland, I would have never solved the steamboat case with Nancy Drew or explored underground caves with the Magic School Bus, and I would have never known if Harry Potter really defeated Voldemort. When the world around us became different—buildings were remodeled, city leadership changed, my teacher retired—the public library has always been a stable factor.

But it’s not just a place for children. The community library here in Saratoga saved my English grade when I was writing a research paper, being the only place I could find the required “print source” the day before it was due. It has played host to countless group project meetings that could not have worked anywhere else. Cafes, parks and houses don’t have the resources or the space to accommodate us. When I got the opportunity to volunteer there, I was always inordinately proud when I told people where I did community service.

If you’re still not convinced that we need to keep our library system intact, I’d like to point out that libraries cater to the needs of people ages 5 to 100. It offers computer knowledge that normally costs anywhere from $20 to $100 to purchase. It’s a safe place for children to read and learn and where they can be mesmerized by the fairytale and mystery books. It provides jobs for tons of people. In a valley full of electronic gizmos, it’s a stable, reliable source of print resources. Internet and WiFi? Check. Left your newspaper at home? They got it. Need a group meeting place? It’s there. Want a quiet work area? Try the Reading Room. Our libraries provide services that are irreplaceable.

I know that we have a giant budget crisis in California, and legislators have to make hard decisions on what services to keep. I hope that after reading this, you have a sense of how important libraries are to everyone. Maybe you aren’t necessarily closing down the Saratoga Library, but even a single library gone equals countless opportunities lost. But, hey, you don’t have to take my word for it. Stop by a library yourself and see what a difference it makes in the lives of people in your community.

Sincerely,
Nandini Ruparel

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