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GUEST COLUMN: Cassetti’s Budget ‘Effectively Closes’ Ansonia Library

by The Ansonia Library Board Of Directors | GUEST COLUMN | Feb 15, 2017 7:59 pm

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Posted to: Ansonia, Ansonia Budget, Letters To The Editor

FILEDo YOU want to live in a city without a library?

The mayor’s proposed budget for the 2017-2018 year eliminates the entire full-time staff and effectively closes the Ansonia Library. The possibility that this could happen is upsetting at the very least, but in reality, it is devastating to the future of our city.

We’d like to share a quick history lesson about the Ansonia Library. The building, located on South Cliff Street, was constructed in 1892 by Caroline Phelps Stokes, the granddaughter of our city’s founder, Anson Phelps. But the library sat vacant for four years because the town refused to provide the $1,500 per year toward the library’s operating expenses. Finally, in 1896, the town leaders relented and voted the annual $1,500 appropriation.

Is history going to repeat itself? With your support and wisdom, let’s not allow that to happen.

For the past 121 years, the library has served as the city’s main resource for many thousands of Ansonia residents, children, adults and senior citizens. On any given day at the Ansonia Library, you may see an adult who reserved the use of one of the computers in order to create a resume for a job, while another resident is at the next workstation, applying for SNAP benefits. A third person asks to access old files of the now-defunct Evening Sentinel newspaper so she can check the obituaries in her quest to gather those last missing pieces of her family tree. A fourth person, who is a widowed senior, has come in to read the newspapers and to socialize with the staff. Downstairs, in the children’s room, Miss Janet is conducting story hour for a group of pre-school children, who are at the very beginning of lifelong learning.

There are two famous people who paint a clear picture of the importance of libraries. Andrew Carnegie, who was among the wealthiest people from the 19th and 20th centuries, attributes his success to knowledge learned through his thirst for books. It is Carnegie’s philanthropic work that has left a lasting impression. Recalling his early years when a library was opened to local working boys, Carnegie focused his largest bequests for gifts of free public library buildings throughout the world. Of libraries, he said, “A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.”

Ray Bradbury, author of the novel Fahrenheit 451, spent three days a week for 10 years educating himself in the public library by reading every book and writing a thousand stories. How important is the public library? Mr. Bradbury stated: “Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.”

This is our community’s future. Our residents will not be able to self-educate because there won’t be a library. We implore you to restore the $372,346 that the mayor is cutting from the library’s budget and keep open the doors of the Ansonia Library. Be the city’s leaders who stand up for this priceless resource for its residents. Will Ansonia be a city without a library? The decision is in your hands.

Sincerely,

The Ansonia Library Board of Directors
Karen Phipps — Chair
Margaret Sullivan — Vice Chair
Violet O’Donnell — Treasurer
Mary Gibson — Secretary
Sue Behun
Tamara Chisefsky
Joanne M. Czeczot
Marcia Dobrowski
Eileen Ehman
Robert Martino

Letter and Library Stats 02-14-17 by The Valley Indy on Scribd

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