First Amendment, Vets and Your Library

Dear Library Community,

As we near Veteran’s Day, it is important to consider the sacrifices those have made throughout the history of this great nation. These sacrifices were not made lightly.  They were made by men and women of sound mind and body who believed in the utmost sanctity of our way of life as written in our Constitution.

As a librarian, I am especially mindful of the First Amendment.  I believe it is no accident that the values expressed within this amendment were chosen to be first.  They are the crux of democracy and our reason for being.  Without these freedoms, our country would be a totalitarian regime.  Certainly, making these freedoms part of our premier amendment is a testament of our Founding Fathers’ tacit understanding of these as our most core and undeniable rights.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Read this and you cannot deny libraries are a core foundation of our democratic nation.  We open our doors to all people: young, old, poor, wealthy, male, female, white, black, gay or straight.  We do not judge those who seek ideas, nor do we censor the ideas they can have access to.  We provide for people the fodder for discussion, imagination, innovation and education.  We feed the collective soul of the community and aid in the satiation of curiosity and the construction of new knowledge.  As the exterior of the Pal-Mac Intermediate School wisely boasts a paraphrased quote from democratic revolutionary, Louis Kossuth. “It is on the sound education of the people that the security and destiny of every nation chiefly rest.”  

It is libraries that daily offer tangible manifestations of the freedom of speech and of the press while also offering a safe space for peaceful assembly.  We welcome people to gather to learn a new skill, hear an informational session or engage in artistic expression.  We encourage the sharing of ideas through books, CDs and DVDs and even through high speed internet access.  We are the University of Every Being.  Anyone who opens our door and crosses the threshold has the right to grow knowledge to a height only limited by personal self-determination.  There is no end to learning so long as one is alive and well with a library card.  

Of course, these freedoms we hold so dearly have come at a dear price.  In every war since the birth of this nation, lives have been given to defend these essential freedoms.  Soldiers have come home disfigured, while others have missed countless milestone moments with their families all to preserve these First Amendment rights so critical to our democracy existing and thriving.

And, to this I wonder how it could be possible that any municipal government in any state of this democratic nation of ours could find it within themselves to chronically underfund an institution so tied to the very rights our soldiers have sacrificed life, limb and precious family time to protect.  How could it be that a library making a reasonable request in line with its required expenditures be refused a reasonable request (in truth, a request that is actually less less than what is needed to heal its deficit)?  

This is a kick in the gut and a slap in the face!  

If a local government does not value the very institution that embodies the core of our nation’s existence, I ask what does this say of that government?

I also ask, what does it say of any citizenry that permits its freedoms to be censured by standing by and allowing its representatives to authorize unreasonably tightened purse strings?

On November 9 at 7:30 pm the Town of Macedon will hold a hearing to discuss the proposed budget.  This budget allocates less than half of the requested allocation needed by the library to run.  The library has been running a deficit budget for several years.  This deficit is growing as the library is given allocations far less than what are necessary to cover increased minimum wage requirements and to cover operating expenses.  Although the library can draw from a small reserve to make payment on its expenses, this deficit will continue to burgeon while the reserve will dwindle to non-existance.

If the town will not adequately fund the library’s requests now, what will happen when the reserve is gone and the request has grown to an amount far in excess of what we are currently asking?  Will this growing deficit become our final, fatal wound?

If you believe the library is, indeed an essential service and critical to the health of our democratic nation and this community, I ask you to attend this meeting to defend it.

Far, far more has been given to preserve our freedoms than money.  Please do not let your rights and your library be economically strangled without a fight.  

Thank you.

Stacey Wicksall, Director


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