Sunday, May 10, 2009

Edward Darnell Ryans (Mantua Cares) Testimony at City Council May 9 (transcript)

MR. RYANS: Good afternoon. My name is Edward Darnell Ryans and I am the Executive Director of a community organization called Mantua Cares. We have a journalism program that resides in the Charles Durham Library, which I just briefly want to speak about its importance.

Our mission, of course, is to foster the self-development of the Mantua community while serving as an advocate for community leaders and their importance to society. In a time where educational reform is on the highest agenda of the nation, we cannot begin to strip away the very support mechanism that helps to foster it. A budget should reflect the values of what we as a city hold most important. We may have a deficit in the budget, but we can never have a deficit in our efforts to further education, to promote literacy and to public access to technology and the Internet.

In an environment where teachers are underpaid, the inappropriate resources for both students and teachers, looming threats of closed libraries, high school dropouts are at an alarming rate, we cannot keep tugging away at the foundational blocks of education for its ultimate collapse and at the same time promote the importance of literacy and education.

These libraries, they provide us with free access to thousands of books, CDs and videos, which are essential for research and homework assistance for our youth. Our libraries provide early literacy training and foster lifelong learning. Programs such as the Mantua Times, we engage our youth in writing, literacy, community engagement and not only giving them a voice to be heard but a platform on which to do it. Other programs such as our Poetry Program for Spoken Word promotes self-expression.

Our librarians provide reference to services and help with the Internet access and technology, which provides an indirect building of a technical know-how for administrative support-type jobs. In our economic times, where online job searches and application submissions are prevalent, a mother who has two part times during the week and uses the weekend to search the Internet for jobs is very important to have those resources available.

Our libraries operate to provide everyone with free and equal access to information and to promote intellectual freedom. It is that phrase, the urgency of now, that still echo and we must hold on to. We must not only be mindful of the changes around us, but we must be just as conscious of the change that needs to happen within us. Frederick Douglas once said, Find out just what people will submit to and you will find out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and that will continue until it is resisted.

The times now have told us that all things are possible and all goals can be reached with the very sacred and simple support of a collective effort, for a tomorrow that ceases at the table back to our communities to build them as we see it, for a tomorrow that supports our businesses and, more importantly, a tomorrow that brings our young men and women to a vision of success.

These economic times have challenged not only our homes but also our values on the importance of a library, and to that, I think we all stand and say, Not today, not this time, and not our libraries.

Thank you.

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