DATE: March 11, 2008
WMRLS Legislative Breakfast: Library Community Must Make Their Voices Heard
Hampden Free Public Library Director Ellen Bump welcomed the crowd and spoke about the library’s bright future.
Holding an event at Hampden Public Library would have been impossible three years ago. The library was forced to close its doors for almost a year in 2005 after the town voted down an override that would have provided library funding. On Friday March 7, 2008 Hampden Public Library hosted a Western Massachusetts Regional Library System (WMRLS) Legislative Breakfast that brought out members of Hampden Board of Selectman, Commissioners from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) and several state legislators.
Representative Mary Rogeness
"We need to realize what's at risk when we don't fund libraries," stated Representative Mary Rogeness. "Here in Hampden you know what's at risk, but the state needs to realize that it's not just losing a library; it's losing the town's center; it's losing access; it's losing critical services that everyone needs in Massachusetts." Senator Gale Candaras encouraged the library community to make their voices heard on Beacon Hill, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease; you've got to squeak more, especially during this difficult budget year."
Representative Angelo Puppolo, Jr, pictured here with members of the library community, encouraged library supporters to be more active.
Mary King, WMRLS Regional Librarian, noted that the WMRLS Budget is down 17% since 2002 while MBLC Commissioner Katherine Dibble talked about the increase in demand for library services. MBLC Commissioner Richard Dunbar added "There are many issues competing before the legislature." "But whether the issue is global warming, health care, or how government works libraries are part of it all and we need to make sure that the legislature understands that."
Hampden Board of Selectmen (left to right) Richard Green, Vincent Villamaino, and John D. Flynn support the Hampden Public Library.
Toni-Golinski-Foisy, Director of West Springfield Public Library and Friends of WMRLS, encouraged the crowd to attend Massachusetts Library Association's Legislative Day on April 2 at the State House, calling attendance at the event "critical in making our voices heard and letting our legislators know how vital libraries are."
Library Trustee Chair Beth Burger and MBLC Commissioner Richard Dunbar
Library trustees Beth Burger and Raymond Andree perhaps best captured the feelings of the crowd. "When libraries close, lives are shattered,"said Mr. Andree. "It's dangerous to become complacent" added Ms. Burger. "We need to make our voices heard."
The Board of Library Commissioners (mass.gov/mblc) is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.