Thursday, July 25, 2002

Library closings

Readers keep the heat on

        Marty would like to drive a stake through my already bleeding heart.

        “You're a vampire,” he said in his customary growl.

        “A bloodsucker,” he added helpfully, in case I misunderstood his original insult. You can't be too subtle in Marty's opinion, because I am “stupid, stupid, stupid.” And a little on the “pinko” side to boot, pinko being interchangeable with “liberal.” Which is, of course, interchangeable with bleeding heart.

        All this is despite his most diligent efforts to educate me via first-name-only voicemail messages. Just now, he is sincerely ticked off by what he calls “your usual plan to take more money from working people.”

        Last week the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County announced that five branches would be closed.

        I couldn't help noticing that the $1.5 million in savings seemed like a drop in the bucket compared with money spent so lavishly on things that are not free and open to the public, such as sports palaces. Which are also, by the way, financed by working people.

Beulah in chains

        And the branches scheduled to close — Bond Hill, Deer Park, Elmwood Place, Greenhills and Mount Healthy — are hardly lounges for the filthy rich. Kids go to these community centers to use computers they couldn't otherwise afford, learning things that will enable them to become future working people. For the elderly, it's a place to connect.

        “I wish I knew what I could do,” Beulah Weppler, 88, says, “short of chaining myself to the counter.”

        A Hyde Park reader suggests corporate sponsors. Naming rights. How about the U.S. Bank/Deer Park Library? Surely the grateful people of Deer Park would never put their money anyplace else. Or the Pringles Public Library of Bond Hill? If I lived in Bond Hill, I'd eat those potato chips until they came out my ears.

        In Mason, a new building will open this winter that is part high school-part community recreation center and entirely sensible. Cincinnati Public Schools are on the brink of a billion-dollar building program. Why not put a branch library in every one, adding the public library's considerable knowledge, personnel and collections to the schools?

        Remarkably, as Hamilton County's population shrinks, library use here is growing. So, maybe our libraries are more important than our public officials knew.

        Or maybe more dear to us than we realized.

        If you have ideas or just a nice, tasteful check, send them along to the library's director, Kimber Fender, 800 Vine St., Cincinnati, 45202-2071.

        “We are going to fight as hard as we can to save our library,” writes Mary Kuemmel of Greenhills.

        “I am constantly appalled at the choices on how money is spent,” says Carol Phelan.

        “These branches are our lifelines,” says Koben Hinman.

        “Nothing has united the entire community more than this,” says JoAnn Bass.

        Frankly, Marty, all this uproar in support of books and education has quite a different effect than you expected.

        It does my heart good.

        E-mail or call 768-8393.



River park project to begin
Robbery brings out the cop in him
The color purple attracting attention
Retail complex closer to deal
More large projects north of Cincinnati
Arsonist hits Colerain Twp. again
Boycotters take call for sanctions to air
Flynt trial judge Wm. Morrissey dies
House OKs limit on abortion
Kings Island knows where Scooby-Doo is
Tristate A.M. Report
HOWARD: Some Good News
- PULFER: Library closings
RADEL: Tall Stacks 2003
Hamilton seeking fire, police levies
Letter lists landfill concerns
Obituary: Jack Quinn, lawyer, S. Lebanon solicitor
Ross turns to voters for classrooms
Two accused of coupon scheme
Coast Guard asks help watching out for terrorism on Great Lakes
Dayton's new schools chief pledges progress
Killer's low IQ could save his life
Ohio native plants rediscovered
OSU said to have chosen woman president
Civil-rights pioneer Porterfield honored
Fire at self-storage facility destroys memories
Judge seals records in lawsuit against church
Kentucky News Briefs
Motorists can use computer to renew