To the Editor,
I am writing in response to the editorial on Oct. 7 titled “Book Dumb.”
I grew up in Robeson County, graduated from South Robeson High School and Dartmouth College, and am now a law student at Michigan State. I know what it means to be a child in a county where the public library system is funded so sparsely that it makes academic research a vigorous exercise of frustration. When I was in high school, I had to do research on global climate change. My aim was to produce a paper that looked at both sides of the debate, analyzed potential solutions and the challenges that would arise by attempting to implement those solutions. To my disappointment, the Robeson County Library did not have much in the way of contemporary research regarding the problem or even items that are tangentially related.
Given the limitations of the library, I was unable to produce a paper that achieved most of the goals. It is incredibly likely that what I experienced is not uncommon.
The paltry funding of our public library system becomes even more repulsive when one considers that our county commissioners are the fourth highest paid in the state. Why are we paying the county commissioners such a high rate while many in our county remain illiterate and without access to resources to change that?
Robeson County’s elected officials have shown very little restraint in their pursuit of using elected office as a means of achieving personal wealth. If they actually cared, they would be working to improve the quality of life by better funding resources that help to better educate the people of this county.
A library should be a reservoir of knowledge, not just a building of books. We cannot expect to better our living conditions if we do not have a literate population. In a changing global economy, companies are increasingly looking for workers who can think critically and adapt to ever-changing situations, skills for which there is no greater incubator than a library.
A well–funded library would serve as a place for children — and adults — to grow and learn. We owe it to our children and to ourselves to call on the county Board of Commissioners to better spend our tax dollars.
Christopher D. Chavis
East Lansing, Mich.