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WHY WE FIGHT: SAVE OHIO’S LIBRARIES
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These are grim times to be someone who makes their living with words.

I’ve already stood witness to the decimation of the newspaper trade. I’m watching the New York publishing industry repeat many of the same mistakes their newspaper brethren made the past five to ten years. Print journalism was pushed to the brink of financial self-endangerment well before the economy went south.

As I write this, Shaman Drum, a terrific bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is counting down the minutes until its shuttering. Many, many independent bookstores have closed and many more are on the bubble. The publishing industry seems be fretting over one of the nation’s three major bookstore chains and booksellers everywhere are turning a hopeful eye to Dan Brown to deliver a solid fourth quarter.

Now, the Ohio library system is facing a 50-percent funding cut that will certainly result in the death of many, many Ohio libraries if the budget is enacted. This proposed cut is in addition to the 20-percent budget reduction originally projected for 2009. Ohio Governor Ted Strickland’s proposed budget will be going before legislators in a few days.

The critical objective now is to compel this governor, who has always talked about his commitment to education, to continue funding the state’s libraries which are a vital aspect of the education of not just Ohio’s youth, but its adult and senior population, as well.

Libraries remain a vital component of our cultural and educational experience. As the father of two young girls, I’m spending this summer trekking from library branch to branch as they both pursue the quest to complete multiple summer reading challenges. Each of the girls has their own library card and their pride in having those cards is palpable.

I certainly remember the feeling. My daughters’ cards are hard plastic and bar-coded. My library card was a flimsy piece of cardboard with an inset metal plate with reverse numbers that passed through an inking-stamp system…you know, back in the day when library books had pockets with inserted cards that allowed you to track every previous reader of that particular edition.

Was a time, I could have told you my library card number; was a time, I lived in fear of forgetting to take the thing from my pocket and having it pulped in the washing machine.

It was an adventure being taken to the library by my aunt and trying to systematically work my way through the Grove City Public Library’s entire collection of dinosaur books and “Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators” titles.

During my middle school and high school years, I worked as a library page. My first paying job was working in the Grove City library where I spent so many hours reading and looking for books.

As all commercially published novelists and nonfiction writers know, a substantial percentage of nationwide book sales are owed to library purchasing. If you are a career author, you must realize that libraries continue to matter to you on several deep and personal levels.

So, the drive is on over the next few days to shame Ohio politicians into doing the right thing and rescinding/rejecting a proposed budget cut that no conscientious and right-minded public representative should have ever contemplated making, let alone proposing.

You can email Ohio Governor Ted Strickland’s office here to voice your support for Ohio libraries.

If you’re the more pithy type, drop Ohio’s governor a note via his Facebook page.

Subscribing to the proposition that all politics are local politics, you might also consider writing your personal Ohio representative.

You can also learn more about ways to strike a blow for Ohio libraries here.

And, if you’re on Twitter, you can show support by using the image above as your own Twitter icon and using #saveohiolibraries tag to improve “trending topic” weight and assist in the effort to gain increased media attention for the campaign to save Ohio’s libraries.

This is a GOOD FIGHT; join the cause.