Public Libraries are the cornerstone of a vibrant Democracy. Thomas Jefferson felt that an educated electorate allowed for thoughtful voting; Benjamin Franklin in 1731 founded the first public library in America.
During the catastrophic withdrawal of funds from the education system, the funding to libraries all across Texas was also cut. It forced the library systems of Texas, which had been 40 years in the making, to close. These systems provided training and additional funding to our local libraries, which many were small rural ones who depended on them.
Libraries did until that time receive a Lone Star Grant each year to assist them in their communities. Even after a total review of libraries and a statewide survey in which individuals overwhelmingly stated that they would gladly pay a small percentage tax increase if that whole percentage were to go to fund all Texas Libraries, the Texas Legislature chose to ignore it.
It was as devastating to the library system as the funding cut to public schools was. Texas ranked at that time as 47th and 49th in comparison to all other states as to how the state funds our libraries. Now we rank 50th out of all the states. This is a travesty. All of the counties in my district suffer from this loss. In many cases, this is the only place one can go to make copies, print, fax or use the internet.
Surely, we owe it to our Founding Fathers to continue the tradition of libraries so that our future generations can be knowledgeable of the world around us.