There was a time that Julie Yockey remembers when people had respect and even reverence for people in high political office, even if they disagreed with some of their beliefs and policies.

There was a time that Julie Yockey remembers when people had respect and even reverence for people in high political office, even if they disagreed with some of their beliefs and policies.
The Carthage Public Library Director felt that respect on Feb. 7 as she walked the halls of the Missouri State Capitol to the office of Gov. Eric Greitens for a one-on-one meeting with the state's new chief executive.
Yockey said the experience was very personal for her.
“I wish these 30-year-old kids and teenagers today could know what it feels like to be reverent and to hold people in high office in high esteem, because it was the highlight of my career,” Yockey said. “When we walked in the door, he looked for my name and he said 'Which one is Julie?' He shook my hand and it was incredible. He listened to every word I said and I got the chance to tell him about our citizenship classes and the 27 people who are taking them. He had no idea, and he looked over at his staff and said, 'we need to plan a trip to Carthage, I want to sit in one of those classes and I want to meet those people.'”

How it came about
Yockey was in Jefferson City with other members of the Missouri Library Association Tuesday, Feb. 7, for Missouri Library Day at the state capitol.
In January Yockey had written a letter to Greitens, and asked for help from State Rep. Mike Kelley, who represents most of rural Jasper County, for help arranging a meeting with the governor.
“It was our pleasure to help these ladies gain an audience with the Governor,” said Kelley, R-Lamar. “Public libraries are integral to our communities, and someone needs to speak for them. I am honored that I had the opportunity to help their dream of speaking directly to the Governor become a reality.”
Yockey said she got a chance to tout the Carthage community as well as talk about some of the accomplishments of the Carthage Public Library.
“He didn't realize our Hispanic population (in Carthage) was so great, he didn't realize our poverty rate is so high because of that,” Yockey said. “He looked at me and he listened to everything I said. I hit on grants and what we're able to do here because of grants. I got to share about our bi-lingual story times, I got to share about our collaboration with the schools, I got to share about the Steadley Trust, I got to share about our city and how they've supported us and how these cuts are going to be detrimental to libraries across the state. It was awesome, he was so awesome.”

The money problem
Yockey said libraries face serious money problems as they struggle to provide for the needs of people who are sometimes ignored by others.
“Small rural towns can do without movie theaters and fancy restaurants, but not libraries,” Yockey wrote in her letter to Greitens. “We are the institution that hears the needs of the unheard voice. Our libraries serve many functions in our community. We are situated close to the schools, it is a safe haven where people of all walks of life can spend time in the company of others, where the unemployed can look for work, where the lonely can be less lonely, the bored less bored, and the ignorant, more enlightened. You can come to our public libraries no matter who you are, what your interests may be, how you are dressed, or what your financial status is.”
State funding for libraries has been cut in recent years, even as demands on libraries increases.
The Missouri Library Association, which hosted Library Day at the Capitol, said state aid to libraries comes in the form of direct aid; funding for internet services, also known as the Remote Electronic Access for Libraries, or REAL program; and an athlete and entertainers tax.
According to numbers provided by the Library Association, appropriations for those three programs totaled $7.4 million in fiscal year 2015 out of the state's $9 billion general revenue budget.
In the current fiscal year, that total fell to $5.9 million, but $2.7 million of that has been restricted by the governor's office as part of the withholdings that office makes to be sure the state stays within its income every year.
Greitens proposed 2017-2018 budget calls for further cuts to libraries, but that budget will be under review by Missouri lawmakers for the next several weeks and a final decision isn't likely until April or May.
Yockey asked the governor to consider returning funding to 2015 levels.
“Governor Greitens, those of us who love to go to work every day in our public libraries, those of us who love to help serve all people in our State hope and pray you understand how important we are to all people,” Yockey wrote. “We desperately need your help in restoring our library funding to the level it was during the 2015 budget year.”