Michael: Democracy's Temple BrokenPublic libraries are the real temples of our democracy. Not the capitol buildings, not the courts, not the governor's mansions. They are all but reflections and servants of the public's sovreignty. No, where the spirit of the res publica resides is in the informed, curious, and educated minds of our citizens. Without public libraries, the self-cultivation required for an informed and engaged citizenry would be a cruel mirage.
I usually have half a dozen books checked out of our public library at any one time, for pleasure and for edification. Our libraries teach adults to read, children to love learning, provide universal access to the bottomless well of knowledge that the internet can be, and give the community a place to gather and engage the issues of the day.
Public libraries are the temples of our democracy. So why does our local government fund them as if they were public toilets? Here in Tucson our libraries are funded at a level of just over $20 per capita. The national average is more than $30 per capita. That is a scandalous neglect of the public interest that I have not heard a single cadidate for local office address.
What propted this rant is the disrepair of the Main Library facilities. Apparently, their budget is so strained that they are unable to repair the curtain gate that separates the parking garage access from the rest of the library. It has been out of commission, causing great inconvenience, for almost 2 months, and there appears to be no money for the repair. It's shameful that the doors to our civic temple are broken, and we cannot bother to fix them.