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Are Your Libraries Lost As a Public Good?

I would like to share my article with our readers here at InterNations that was published over at AlterNet.

America is About to Lose One of Its Best Public Resource: Public Libraries

As an American librarian I am glad to be living in the European Union where library funding isn't under attack to the extent that it is back home in the United States, because readership, literacy and an open based knowledge system that is publicly funded is still valued. In America, library budgets have become low hanging fruit for conservative local and state politicians. Louisiana is the worse case in point where Gov. Bobby Jindal has eliminated state library funding all together. Not only does it beg the question will your state be next but it asks the question what will you do when they come for your library and your kid's summer reading program? Do you really know how many books it's really going to take to make that special child or grandchild in your life a lifelong reader. Do you think you have anywhere near those numbers of books in your private collection?

Please let's remember the voluminous studies that have been done year after year, decade after decade that show us that prison inmates for the most part are functionally illiterate and that teen pregnancy is directly linked to literacy rates.

Christian Science Monitor: November 18, Protected content
Louisiana residents choose libraries over jail to receive funds Residents of Lafourche Parish in Louisiana recently voted down a proposal that would have used money currently going to local libraries to build a new prison.

Literacy statistics and juvenile court

Protected content of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.

More than 60 percent of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate.

Penal institution records show that inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70% who receive no help. This equates to taxpayer costs of $25,000 per year per inmate and nearly double that amount for juvenile offenders.

Illiteracy and crime are closely related. The Department of Justice states, "The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure." Over 70% of inmates in America's prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.

According to UNICEF: " Nearly a billion people will enter the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names and two thirds of them are women."

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