It is distressing to hear that our libraries are facing significant budget cuts again ("County library may reduce staff because of budget woes," June 28).
Library administrators said that their proposed budget is "designed to keep all libraries open without cutting hours." After the agony of closed libraries and reduced hours at many Minneapolis libraries, I applaud that goal, but I am gravely concerned that this assessment may be misleading. Preliminary budget materials distributed to library staff last week proposed the elimination of the Readmobile program, which is regarded by many as "the library on wheels."
The program includes two Readmobiles that serve preschool children in Hennepin County. The Readmobiles make scheduled stops to provide books to children and staff in numerous early childhood development centers, as well as to home-based child-care programs. They also provide these services to a number of summer programs for preschool and school-age children.
Quality child care is a critical element of school readiness and healthy development as well as one of the best investments of public dollars. The Hennepin County Library System has been one of the national leaders in aligning library services to young children with research-based early literacy best practices.
I am therefore at a loss to understand why the library system would propose to completely eliminate its one outreach program dedicated to serving young children and their care providers.
REBECCA STRAUCHON, MINNEAPOLIS;
RETIRED SUPERVISOR OF HENNEPIN COUNTY LIBRARY'S READMOBILE PROGRAM