O'Connell addresses lawmakers re library bonding.By Irene O'Connell
"Good morning, my name is Irene O'Connell and I am a city Council woman in San Bruno. As you know, libraries are an extremely crucial part of education system of a community. They serve all people of all ages.
Our community recently tried to pass a library bond and received 57% of the vote, a strong majority of the people. However, my community is being disadvantaged in trying to provide improved educational facilities for its residents because we can't pas a bond on the same terms as other education--related facilities--schools. Instead of 55%, we need 66% plus.
Quite frankly, wealthier communities in our area often have substantial votes in favor of their libraries, and while our community musters a sound majority, it can't provide the facilities that wealthier areas provide. This not only damages our ability to provide additional educational resources in San Bruno, but it also damages the concept of equal opportunity. SCA 10 will give California voters the chance to determine if they want 55% -- and better libraries -- for communities like our.
In San Bruno we are part of the Peninsula Library System, a highly successful regional library system. Our inability to provide an adequate library facility impacts our neighboring libraries. It is in all our best interest to let local communities have the opportunity to fund these institutions at 55%.
In San Bruno, our relationship with the school district is contractual. We serve as the librarian of record for the district and provide library services to seven elementary schools and one middle school. Similar arrangements currently exist and are being encouraged throughout the state.
It is both reasonable and just that the rationale for 55% be applied to public libraries as well as school. Providing educational support is a primary mission for all public libraries in our state.
As a teacher and a parent, I know first hand that younger children are particularly helped by libraries and librarians. An 8-year-old child I know was taken to the library and instructed to select some books for reading. The child was, despite all her teachers and parents had done, a very poor reader - in fact, it was her least favorite subject. Nevertheless, she did as she was told...only to come back minutes later with nothing in her hands. Her mother and the librarian were chatting about how she read with her daughter, how much fun she had as a child reading, how it gave her such pleasure and knowledge reading now. The little girl listened to this for a few moments, turned around and left. She came back with an arm full of books - and has been reading ever since.
That was a year ago. Monday the little girl received her report card - she had an "A" in reading. I know because her name is Jennifer and she is my daughter.
As a teacher, mother, and elected leader who is concerned about equal opportunity for all, it is especially important that libraries be available to households with limited incomes so that the educational mission of government is served as best we know how - through adequate facilities. There is a point at which we say, "Education is precious - we need to allow the mission to be fulfilled."
As a teacher, I can tell you that children flock to our overcrowded and antiquated library to do their homework and to borrow books. But it is clear that a modern library, one that isn't subject to overcrowding, will help build California.
SCA 10 simply gives voters the choice. It's a choice that exists for others in other parts of America. It's a choice that we need in California."
Copyright ©2002 City of San Bruno. Published 04/25/2002.