Letter to the Editor

When I moved to Tama County, one major thing that impressed me was that there was a library in nearly every town. I remember calling my family out west to tell them, “Iowa must be a great place because the people here know that libraries are important”.

On September 21, the Tama city council made the decision to cut your library’s budget by $50,000. This budget cut could ultimately force the closure of the Tama Public Library. I will not get into the legalities and rumors surrounding that terrible decision in this letter. My concern is that we need to think deeply about what the elimination of this library will mean to our community.

Just as public education is provided to everyone so should access to public knowledge be available to everyone.

I have watched your library give its heart and soul to the area it serves. The library director, Julie Shook and her staff know their patrons each by name, they know their struggles and they celebrate in their triumphs. They don’t merely hand over books, they give people a place to belong. Through her summer reading programs, Julie has touched the lives of hundreds of our county’s youth. This being said, there is always room for improvements. If the library isn’t functioning in a way that works for you, let’s sit down and talk as a community and make changes that work for everyone.

A library is the heart of a town. Have you ever watched a child’s eyes light up as they enter a library for the first time and leave with books checked out in THEIR name? Have you ever seen the relief on someone’s face who needed to send a fax or email and had no other means to do that? Have you ever heard the conversations and greetings of friends that share a book or idea as they meet among the library’s shelves?

A library stimulates the imagination, gives every person a place to discover. In March, when the area schools were closed it was found that many in our area have no access in their homes to internet resources. Your public library gives that access to everyone! Many individuals use the library to do school work, apply for jobs, pay bills and other important matters that they could only accomplish because of the library’s internet.

The building that houses the library adds beauty to downtown Tama. It was built in 2000, using funds donated by many individuals and businesses throughout the area. In the entrance of the library are nearly 100 names of benefactors who gave in order for this community to grow. Are their efforts and sacrifices worth so little to us that we would see their dreams die a mere 20 years later? I sincerely pray this is not the case.

Please think twice before allowing your Tama Public Library to be discarded. We will be losing a priceless part of our community if this is allowed to happen.