In a recent story about budget cuts for our libraries, the Beaufort County administrator is quoted as saying that budget cuts (and resulting reductions in staff levels, programs and hours of operation) at existing libraries are part of his attempt to absorb the cost of a new library branch on St. Helena Island.
He also suggested that new technology could provide creative ways to meet residents' information needs in the future.
Following that logic a bit further one might ask: Is a new library needed on St. Helena?
The answer to that question is a resounding "yes."
Libraries provide communities not only with books and reading materials, but also with early learning and reading programs for children, adult learning, computer access and training, database availability, reference and research assistance, meeting space and more. There is no question that new technology will bring changes to libraries, but few foresee a time when libraries will no longer be essential to communities. In fact, despite recent advances in online availability and e-books, library use has steadily increased.
St. Helena needs a library just as much as other communities in the county need theirs, but it is critically important that all branches, including St. Helena, are fully staffed and fully operational. The present course of action will result in none of the branches operating properly.
Please, County Council, find another way to fully fund operations in the new library and return our existing branches to normal.
Editor's note: Mike Morse is a member of the Beaufort County Library Board of Trustees.