There is a pervasive belief in our society that knowledge and education empower people. However, in Minneapolis, libraries are closing and restricting hours as money is favored over access to knowledge.
As of late, the Minneapolis Public Libraries have been experiencing budget cuts. Libraries have been forced to limit hours, and continued cuts have led to a series of new proposals from the Library Board. The proposals range from closing 10 libraries and devoting all resources to the remaining five, to closing three and continuing operation at other locations during limited hours.
We are now reaching a point where we are losing our access to these valuable assets. With many people using the Internet more, it is easy to forget how important libraries still are to a city like Minneapolis. Many people still do not own a computer, and libraries provide free computer access. Of course, libraries also are the only place where you can borrow books, music and videos for free. There is a large part of this city that cannot afford to buy books regularly or have their own Internet access. If we are serious about maintaining an educated population, the libraries must remain open.
Currently, libraries are distributed across Minneapolis; you can go anywhere in the city and be near a library. This basic infrastructure must remain to allow as many people as possible to benefit. In addition, the hours at many libraries must be adjusted to accommodate the many people who work during the day. Only eight libraries offer any hours on the weekends, and no library is open past 6 p.m. more than twice a week.
Minneapolis needs to reaffirm its commitment to knowledge. Budget cuts are not easy to deal with, but the current library board proposals are not sending this city in the right direction. If Minneapolis wants to continue its tradition of a strongly educated population, it will do whatever is necessary to keep these libraries as a functioning part of our city.