Thursday, January 11, 2007

Libraries and schools worth the investment

First published in the Times Union: Thursday, January 11, 2007

It's 5:30 on a Friday evening, and I'm off to meet my daughter at the library. When I arrive at the cramped quarters, every computer is in use, patrons are selecting books and DVDs; I see three adults I know from the neighborhood and I'm introduced to a new Albany resident.

There's a line at the checkout counter, and 10 kids are finishing their game of "Dance Dance Revolution!"

One half-hour before closing time, and this place is bustling -- hardly the unneeded, unused, 20th-century relic Al Paolucci painted in his Dec. 30 letter. My grandmother taught me to know a good deal when I see one, and she'd be proud to watch me vote for two "great finds" next month.

For me, the Feb. 6 school and library referendums are a community investment at a very palatable price.

The school referendum will not cost taxpayers in the end, and provides necessary repairs to three schools that weren't part of the rebuilding plan passed by voters more than five years ago.

The price tag on five new or renovated libraries seems modest when I consider the product -- a new branch for the Arbor Hill/West Hill neighborhoods where there are currently no library branches, and the assurance that neighborhoods that now have branches will be served even better with more space and services for children and youth.

In my mind, these referendums add up to a deal we can't afford to pass up.



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