A Path with Heart: A Real Treasure

Esta es la parte 26 de un total de 31 partes en la serie A Path with Heart / Araceli Martínez

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Californians are privileged in many ways, but few are aware that they have a real treasure in their public libraries. That’s why I became very concerned when I found out about Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal to eliminate $30.4 millions in library funds. This cut could result in libraries having fewer hours; fewer books, higher fees. It could even result in library closures.

As a Sacramento reporter, I know what a fiscal mess the state’s been in for the last three years. I know that the state really needs to finds savings in every corner of the administration. However, I can’t avoid feeling bad for the libraries. Governor Brown says that everybody in the state will fight the cuts that impact them the most. I personally feel impacted by the cuts to the libraries.

Days after I immigrated to this country, I went to the library. As I wandered through the aisles of the deliciously cozy San Carlos library in the San Francisco peninsula, I felt like a child playing with a brand new toy, lost in wonder. I could not believe I could bring home books, CDs and movies. I never had that option in Mexico. We had wonderful libraries, especially in the big cities, but people couldn’t take books home. I used the libraries in Mexico as a place to study alone or in a group. When I came to the U.S., I couldn’t believe that I could borrow books from other libraries in the county, and that I could eve ask a librarian to buy a book. I could not believe that I did not have to pay anything, and that I received an alert via e-mail to return books and materials on time. And you are not going to believe this, but I have never met a library employee who was in bad mood. They are always eager to help.

As an avid reader, I have become a library addict. The knowledge that libraries’ services could be reduced troubles me. Not only because I can’t afford to buy all the books I currently borrow from the library, but because it will affect so many other library patrons. Most library users, especially in counties like Sacramento, aren’t rich — not even upper-middle class. They are poor or low middle class, whose only opportunity to get a book, use the computer, access the internet, or even read a newspaper is through the public library. Some libraries offer literacy tutoring to illiterate adults. (Will that program be cut?)

I am concerned about the future of public libraries. In their books, I have found refuge, knowledge and happiness. Library books have enriched my life, and I bet they have enriched the lives of millions. As an immigrant, I greatly appreciate them because I did not have them in my home country.

For children and students, libraries complement their education. For adults, libraries are an opportunity for life-long learning. I know that California is in financial trouble, but for many people public libraries are the only path to self improvement.

A 30.4 million dollar cut —won’t fix California’s budget — but it will rob people of the greatest treasure of all: education.

Edited by Maria Ginsbourg, Journalism graduate from San Francisco State University


Series NavigationA Path with Heart: Attack Against Journalist is no SurpriseA Path with Heart: A Tsunami that Never Arrived

Araceli Martinez Ortega

Araceli Martínez Ortega is a Mexican journalist who has lived in California in the last nine years. This collaboration is about her personal journey through Las Americas and wherever she goes.
Acerca de Araceli Martinez Ortega 34 Articles
Araceli Martínez Ortega is a Mexican journalist who has lived in California in the last nine years. This collaboration is about her personal journey through Las Americas and wherever she goes.

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