The Fourth of July is Independence Day.  It’s the day our nation celebrates freedom; freedom of oppression, freedom from tyranny and the opportunity to exercise religious and political beliefs.  We are allowed to practice free speech, vocally or through the written word. Ironically, two hundred years after the Constitution was written, we are still faced with book banning, and worse, book burning, but are we dealing with the worst social catastrophe yet…the closing of our public library?  How insane is this?  The greatest equalizer for the social make-up of our society, knowledge, is in jeopardy.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think someone would consider closing a public library. 

As a kid, one of my greatest days was when I got my first library card.  This was one of my first forms of identification, let alone help shaped my identity.  I even used my library card as a second Id., for years, to cash checks.  We lived in a rural area of Rochester,  NY.  Getting to the library wasn’t easy, so it came to us as a rolling library, a bus filled with books from one of our main branches.  Each week the bookmobile would enter our neighborhood bringing books and even record albums so we could stay in touch with the world and continue our education.  The bookmobile would accept our request of desired books and return the following week with them.
When I was in college the library was one of the best places to pick up cute, smart girls, a lot better than in a bar.  The library has always been a place to escape our hectic lives and enjoy a little peace, quite, and tranquility.  There is a certain comfort knowing you can go to the library and have complete access to the world and even the universe.  It is not unusual for me to read several books a week.  My wife normally has two or three working at the same time as well as a host of reference books open.

During my life I have lived in many cites, and one of the first things I did in each was get my library card.  Even when we moved to Marathon it was on my family’s must do list for the first week.  We took out books, researched the area and used the library computers to incorporate our business.

The Keys have worked hard developing an infrastructure; new parks, new beaches, new schools, new cities and now there’s the expectation of The Florida Keys Community College becoming a four-year college.  Why in the world would anyone even consider putting the library on the ‘hit-list’ of unnecessary expenditures?  Learning is not a luxury – it’s a necessity!  A library is this country’s mark of freedom and promise to its citizens that knowledge is available to any social group.  Knowledge is the greatest equalizer.  It is said that knowledge is power.  Take away knowledge and you take away our power.  The library is a necessity for our continued growth as a well-rounded community.  If any changes should be made, they should be the expansion of the library, additional access and additional parking.  Lets not regress to darkness but go boldly into the future.  For those of you looking for a solution to the financial woes of the county, I urge you to go where I believe will be an answer… buried in a book at the library.

Dream the life you live, and live the life you dream.

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