...I would like to thank you for your time in letting me share the importance of public libraries to all citizens of our great State.
Editor's Note: Carthage Public Library Director Julie Yockey wrote the following letter to new Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens last month. This letter, along with the efforts of State Rep. Mike Kelley, who represents rural Jasper County, earned Yockey a meeting with Greitens where she got the chance to voice her case for supporting public libraries across the state.
Dear Governor Greitens,
On behalf of all public libraries in the state of Missouri, I would like to thank you for your time in letting me share the importance of public libraries to all citizens of our great State.
The public library is an indispensable institution that sometimes gets taken for granted. Small rural towns can do without movie theaters and fancy restaurants, but not libraries. 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. Missouri’s public libraries are the only place where people of all colors, creeds, ages, political beliefs, financial status can easily and freely intermingle.
We need your support! Last year in our state, the number of visitors to public libraries far exceeded the combined attendance to many of the state’s other major attractions. People use the public library to get on-line instead of in-line while trying to find a job. We support people who are trying to build or re-build their lives. We bring our very diverse communities together. State funding varies from county to county or city to city, yet we are all alike. We depend on stable funding in order to provide internet services to our patrons, books and materials for people of all ages. With the decrease in funding, book budgets in our library will be cut in half. Without the funding from LSTA grants, programing will be cut. Data bases that patrons use for researching their school papers, or for those that are looking for jobs, will be lost. Veterans will not have a free place to go to seek support for their immediate needs.
Teenagers will be out on our streets, with no funding available for age appropriate after school programs.
In Carthage, we are a community with a 36 percent Hispanic population and a poverty rate equally as high. Only through State and federal grants are we able to offer early literacy programs for families to aid parents as well as children in learning the English language so that the children are ready to learn when they reach school. Only offered in our part of the 4-State area, Carthage is proud that we are working with our City to increase our economy by offering classes for Spanish speaking adults where they can learn to read and speak English, as well as participate in our classes that teach students the curriculum to become naturalized citizens. We are in a unique situation Sir, and we need state funding to help us continue to meet the needs of all people in Carthage and around our state. We currently have 27 adult students to date who are devoted to becoming United State Citizens, with 5 people that have already passed their Citizenship Test. We are headed to Kansas City in one week to witness their swearing in ceremony. This is a huge step for our community, as we are striving to get people in the work force so that they can help us raise our economic outlook for the future.
Gov. 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. We desperately need your help in restoring our library funding to the level it was during the 2015 budget year.
I would love the opportunity to have you visit our library in Carthage. A historic Carnegie Library, one that belongs to our entire community.
Thank you for your time today, and for your being the “People’s Governor.”
Respectfully submitted, Julie Yockey, Director of Carthage Public Library