The death of public libraries?

Stamford’s new Republican mayor attempted to cut our library budget by 1/3, which would have necessitated closing ALL branch libraries and cutting back hours at the downtown library (for which there is no parking). Fortunately, people expressed outrage, and cuts were not nearly as draconian as the mayor desired.

But libraries across America are being devastated. Camden, NJ’s libraries are on the verge of permanent closure:

Camden is preparing to permanently shut its library system by the end of the year, potentially leaving residents of the impoverished city among the few in the United States unable to borrow a library book free.

At an emotional but sparsely attended meeting of the library board Thursday, its president, Martin McKernan, said the city’s three libraries cannot stay open past Dec. 31 because of severe budget cuts by Mayor Dana L. Redd.

“It’s extraordinary, it’s appalling,” McKernan said.

All materials in the libraries would be donated, auctioned, stored, or destroyed. That includes 187,000 books, historical documents, artifacts, and electronic equipment. Keeping materials in the shuttered buildings is a fire hazard, officials said, and would make them vulnerable to vandalism and vermin.

…“It’s tragic,” said Audra Caplan, president of the national Public Library Association. “We are the only institution in this country that provides access to information and materials for free, which is huge right now.”

Posted by James on Saturday, August 07, 2010