Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks for Libraries and Librarians! by Honorary Mayor Allaire Koslo, The Lakes Community

With an attitude of gratitude I give thanks for our libraries and librarians. Thank goodness for the Los Angeles County Library which serves our rural communities with the Bookmobile. Our family is thankful for the Lancaster and Quartz Hill Libraries. Even though the hours have been cut and the libraries are closed on Sundays now, and some closed on Mondays too, they are still a rich resource for us all. We are also thankful for all the libraries and librarians we have in our schools as well.
Recently, I drove by what used to be The Palmdale City Youth Library. Workers were removing the building's interior. They were emptying what used to be a perfectly wonderful and thriving center of learning where dreams were created, love of books was shared, reading was taught, stories were told, crafts were made and so much more. The harsh reality of the end of this beautiful library hit me hard. The finality, the absurdity, the huge mistake of closing it was real.
The City of Palmdale created a true sanctuary for our children in this Youth Library, a safe and happy haven. The librarians were angels on earth; they were so dedicated. I cannot sing their praises enough. I am forever grateful for their kindness, knowledge and generosity. I shall always remember the Librarian Mrs. Miles who even lent me her own Joseph doll to do a Second Grade storytelling of the Caldecott Medal Book: "Joseph has a Little Overcoat" by Simms Taback written in 1999. The moral of the story was that you can always make something out of nothing. That human connection was very powerful for not only the children, but for parents also.

The building shall become a job center. The headline in the Antelope Valley Press recently proclaimed $450,000 to renovate Youth Library into Job Center. Where did the city find $450,000 for a job center considering that they could not find any money to keep the library open? We are all for jobs, who isn't? But why would one knowingly take something good in a community and destroy it, take it away? We had something so special, a jewel in the desert, a gorgeous, 4.7 million dollar facility open in August of 1998. It did not even last for its eleven year anniversary. I thought it would be here for generations. I know there are pros and cons to every decision and reasons. Part of the Youth Library was moved to have a place in the main old Palmdale City Library. Many books were distributed to schools and other places.
However, that does not change the way I feel when I see a pregnant woman or a mother with a young child here in the Antelope Valley. I lament that they will not have that library to enjoy and experience. My daughter is thirteen. We were lucky. She reaped untold benefits from this library. Our future youth shall not have that. Instilling love of learning and reading and writing is a priceless gift. When we have places like the Palmdale Youth Library, we have a center for positive activities for the family. We have higher literacy rates, more tolerance and more education. Indeed perhaps we would have less gangs, less crime. I cannot fully express my sadness at this loss of what was truly an amazing place full of happy memories. The closing of The Palmdale City Youth Library is more than a mistake or bad decision, it is a poor choice with long term negative consequences. It is robbing, yes, stealing the gift of learning from our children. That is a crime!

Going to libraries wherever we go and travel, and book stores and book events is a huge part of our family life. I have read to my daughter, Chloe almost every night of her life. Although she does most of her reading solo the last several years, it is in our blood. Books surround us, with Shakespeare, Yoga, nature books, you name it, we have it. Love of learning and reading is part of us, story telling, plays, films, etc. Knowing what others shall be missing without the Palmdale City Youth Library hurts. It is just plain wrong, wrong, wrong.

So with this huge loss, I have to at least praise and be grateful for the libraries we do have and for the new Los Angeles County library in Acton which just opened. May our holidays be filled with connecting with family, meaningful exchanges, reading and enjoying life.

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