ALA, PLA presidents release joint letter to halt closure of Sunland Park (N.M.) Community Library

For Immediate Release
Thu, 07/19/2012

Contact:

Macey Morales
Media Relations Manager
American Library Association
1-800-545-2433 ext.5024 4393
mmorales@ala.org

CHICAGO — American Library Association President Maureen Sullivan and Public Library Association President Eva Poole distributed a joint letter to members of the Sunland Park (N.M.) City Council to urge that it take library service off the chopping block, as the council attempts to reduce the city's debt.  

Sullivan and Poole released the following letter:   

To the Sunland Park City Council, 
 
It has come to our attention that the Sunland Park City Council is considering the elimination of library service in Sunland Park. In the short term, such a move may lessen the city’s deficit, but in the long run, such a choice will place thousands within the community at a significant educational and economic disadvantage. While we understand the dire economic situation your community is facing, we write to convey that the costs it takes to run Sunland Park Community Library are very small compared to the benefits your residents gain– job seeking resources and assistance, training in the use of computers, access to important community and other information and literacy support.

According to national figures, currently Sunland Park is struggling with high unemployment and illiteracy rates. Shutting the Sunland Park Community Library is the equivalent to turning your back on the more than 58,000 people who depend on library service each year to better their lives through education and access to technology.

Public libraries are critical to community development. The services they provide are even more essential when communities are struggling economically. According to the American Library Association’s Public Library Funding and Technology Access Study, millions of job seekers across the country use the Internet to seek employment each year, in part because this is the only way to submit employment applications online for many job opportunities. More than 62 percent of libraries report that they are the only source of free public access to computers and the Internet in their communities.

Sunland Park’s unemployment rate is at more than 7 percent. How will job-seekers in your community find the resources they need to contribute to the local economy? The community needs the Sunland Park Community Library for free access to workshops in resume writing, interviewing skills, and job-search resources, as well as for identifying and connecting with outside agencies that offer job training and placement.

We recognize that the current fiscal environment continues to force you to make very difficult decisions. However, eliminating public library service is not the answer. This is a time when the Sunland Park Community Library serves as a lifeline for the thousands of community members who are dealing with job losses and who are struggling to make ends meet. The library can and needs to be part of the solution.

We respectfully urge you to reconsider placing library service on the chopping block, when so many of your residents depend on it.