Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Support the downtown public library!!

At storytime today we learned that there has been a highly *unpublicized* campaign to cut the downtown public library (main branch) budget!! This goes to vote soon, and should the move pass, the main library will reduce its hours, opening at 10, and thereby reducing children's programming by *at least* 2 storytimes per week.

I spoke with Mary Mary and the director of the children's programming after the storytime, asking what could be done in support of them and to whom we should address our concerns. They asked that all who do NOT support these budget cuts contact their district council person and let them know your thoughts. If you don't know what district you live in, who your council person is, or the contact information for said person, please look here.

I share with you the letter I wrote to my district 6 councilman, Mike Jameson. It is heartfelt and comes from a real mama's hope for her son and her husband and her community at large, not from a slick professional, even though I can be that when necessary. Feel free to use it as a template, crib from it, or whatever might be helpful.

Dear Councilman Jameson,

I write to you today to ask for your support of Nashville’s downtown public library, its main branch, and a central part of my --and many other-- families’ lives.

As we do near weekly, my 20 month old son and I headed to the public library downtown this morning—it is such a rich and wonderful community resource for all of Nashville Metro as well as our city’s visitors. We generally go to storytime, have snacks and play in the courtyard by the fountain, and spend plenty of time finding just the right books and sometimes DVDs to bring home for our family’s enjoyment. The theatre where storytime and the puppet shows are held is magnificent and the children’s programming has been an absolute delight. Our son adores Mary Mary, The Professor and Library Pete, their songs, and the puppets. If you haven’t spent time witnessing these activities yourself, I highly encourage a little library storytime; we’d be glad to share a morning with you there anytime.

In addition to being exposed to literature and arts (the library shows films!, hosts fine art shows!, puts on lectures and programs of all stripes!), my husband and I love that our family is part of the fabric of our community—that the public library is just that: public. We also regularly visit Representative Cooper’s office to share our hopes for our community as well, now that his office is located at the main library.

As National Outreach Coordinator and Community Organizer of our local Mothers Acting Up community (www.mothersactingup.org) I followed the request of other community mothers to choose our beloved downtown public library as our alternate gathering place when the public parks aren’t weather amenable for our weekly Mobilize the Mamas play and action group. As mothers leading our families and our communities, we want to support the institution that our tax dollars pay for, and joyfully inhabit the space that we feel so fortunate to access, along with all kinds of folks from our greater community.

For these reasons, I was heartbroken to learn at this morning’s storytime that there are budgetary cuts that may compel the main branch of the public library to reduce their hours, and to cut back on children’s programming next month. I ask for your vote in support of maintaining the library’s current hours and programming. More than anyone, our city’s children would be done a great disservice should the funding (and thereby magic!) for our main library be diminished.

I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

In public & peaceful parenting,
Paige La Grone Babcock, for [MBM & Ziggy], too

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