Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Susan Gould (Fumo branch) Testimony at City Council May 9 (transcript)

MS. GOULD: My name is Susan Gould. I represent the Fumo Library on Broad Street between Ritner and Porter. I'm a member of the Coalition to Save the Libraries, and in real life, I'm a music and dance critic, a teacher of Italian, German and French, an editor and a proofreader, none of which adds up to pay the bills. But I will not go through everything that I had originally intended, because my colleagues have been so extraordinarily eloquent. I will say, first of all, that the Fumo Library has suffered the same problems as the others that have been referred to today when it became one of the 11 expendable libraries, and we have had the same terrible effects on our programs that had to be either cancelled or postponed. And one thing that distinguishes the Fumo Library, are, for instance, our monthly Italian movies, which for a couple of months couldn't take place, great deals of programs for children, both daycare center children and children who attend the Fels Community Center next door. We service, I think, if I'm not mistaken, six public schools in the neighborhood.

So I will simply reiterate that any -- it's already been bad enough until now. The mere fact that we have libraries closed on Saturdays in the summer, which has been going on for decades perhaps, is a huge mistake. To reduce hours even further or days or whichever horrible plan might be taken on is inconceivable and must not be done.

I would like to remind everybody that in the news the other day on Thursday, our Pennsylvania Senate presented a budget that literally eviscerates the state's cultural body; for instance, slashing the entire budgets for the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts, Pennsylvania's part of PBS, Public Broadcasting System, the Office for -- the Film Office, which directly affects Philadelphia. And what else? And this really hit: The Office for Safe Schools. Now, I ask you, what are the safest and most inspiring and most comforting and most useful havens for children, especially if our government decides that there should no longer be a department to make sure their schools are safe -- and we know how unsafe many schools are -- than libraries?

It's true that this proposal by the republican majority of the Senate may not take place, may not go further, definitely will be argued about, but there will be cuts.

Now, Pennsylvania, it has been said -- I'm sure you've all heard this -- is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between. Now, do we want to have Philadelphia end up in the same status as other parts of our state from whence comes some of those senators who think that culture and arts and safe schools are not as important as additional funding for prisons, which we wouldn't need if everybody could get to libraries and be safe in their schools?

So we don't want to make the same mistake. We don't want to be another -- nothing against Alabama. It was just that was the way the quote went. But let us not let our City Council, please, City Council, don't do a Pennsylvania state Senate, don't pull that on the Philadelphia libraries.

Thank you.


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