Hubbardston PLI would not want to be working as a public librarian in MA just now, because it appears that the citizens of that state are not feeling particularly positive about their public libraries.

The Hubbardston Public Library is closing down June 28 (that’s the HPL there on the left), after a property tax limitation measure passed and citizens voted against restoring its cuts. The tax limit cut its budget so much that it can’t survive. (I originally said it was the Worcester PL – I’ve corrected the error.)

And in Saugus, MA, the public library’s budget is being cut by $75,000, with that money being given instead to the city’s schools, to hire two reading specialists. (Two reading specialists for that little money? Wow, I hope they’re able to pay their bills, since I’m assuming that the $37,500 each will receive includes their benefits, too.)

The debate at Saugus’s town meeting was pretty intense. The Saugus Public Library had already lost its certification with the state library commission. Library folks pressed hard to keep the library staffed, while the school supporters, living under the shadow of No Child Left Behind, pressed for support for helping poor elementary-level readers:

“The $75,000 would make it possible for people to keep working in the library, and back up the reading programs in the schools,” said resident Martha Clouse. “It will bring us a step closer to recertification.”

Town Meeting member Barbara Malone, a former School Committee chairwoman, countered that the schools must produce strong readers.

“What is the point of having a library serving children who can’t read?” she said. “I’d just like you to think about that.”

It’s a tough decision. Both schools and libraries need better funding, but conservative voters, especially those without kids in school, don’t want to pay taxes. I’ve seen it happen all over the US, and it will not be easy – especially in these hard economic times – to convince a lot of voters otherwise.

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