Libraries' contributions worth larger investment

info@islandpacket.comMarch 10, 2013 

Whenever I hear a discussion of the Beaufort County library system at County Council meetings, I feel that Councilman Steve Baer of Hilton Head Island is one of the few who understands its importance to our community.

On a recent Thursday afternoon, I saw every parking place taken at the Hilton Head library and people parked on the grass, in the median and even at the retirement community next door.

I counted the cars and license plates in one section of the lot. Out of 60 cars, 24 were from out of state -- Michigan, New York, Ontario, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and North Carolina and elsewhere. Others were from South Carolina.

Who are these people? They are the tourists who come to Hilton Head Island every winter. The same people who pay accommodations taxes and property taxes on second homes, support our restaurants and stores and provide dollars to maintain our community.

Frequent use by local residents disproves the idea that people don't use libraries anymore because of the Internet. Children's programs bring in hundreds of little ones each month and encourage literacy. In the past eight weeks, more than 900 people have attended 15 adult programs sponsored by Friends of the Library.

The county should count patrons at each of the branches and reallocate funds, increasing hours and staff where justified.

A library is a place for literacy and learning and a community center. Our libraries add to the county's attractions as a destination. It's time to rethink the recent cuts.

Valerie Ford

Hilton Head Island

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