Letters to the Editor

Wednesday, May 26 2010 07:31 PM

More cuts to grossly underfunded libraries?

By The Bakersfield Californian

So, it comes down to this. The Kern County Board of Supervisors is contemplating another 10 percent cut in the already grossly underfunded county library budget.

This perplexing nonsense comes despite new data about library use in Kern County. Recent counts show the county library system is visited 1.25 million times a year, more than 1.5 times the total county population! Thus, libraries are the most heavily used county service, bar none. The library department's paltry $8 million budget is just over 0.56 percent of the total $1.43 billion county budget, making libraries the most cost-effective activity in Kern.

Why are the supervisors cutting libraries? If the library budget were divided equally between the three largest county budget lines (Budget Units 2000, 4000 and 5000), their budgets would increase by 0.54 percent, 1.2 percent and 0.59 percent, respectively. A 100 percent cut in learning, to fund tiny increases in the Big Three; this is true folly. The supervisors' "private" Special Services slush fund (Budget Unit 1040) may contain nearly $7 million of 2010-11 funding; surely $1 million of it could be used to keep libraries open for everybody.

If we don't stop this travesty, within three years the only library left in Kern County will be the law library at the Lerdo jail.

Protest before June 7. Go to www.co.kern.ca.us/bos/contact.asp and click the Board of Supervisors link to find e-mail addresses and mailing addresses. A brief message saying "Stop the library cuts" will suffice. And remember: If not us, who? If not now, when?

DAVID L. BURDICK

Ridgecrest

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