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Disappointed by cuts in Florence library hours

I am writing in opposition to the decision to drastically reduce operating hours of the Florence County Public Library following the recent incident involving an intruder attempting to enter the school. I truly hope and pray that this is only temporary.

As a patron of the library and a citizen of Florence County, I am extremely disappointed and dismayed about the limitations this poses on the public’s access to this important community asset. I am also a part-time employee of the library, and in that position, I have personally observed and fully realize the value of the library facility and all the diverse programs it offers to citizens young and old in Florence County. Many retired community members and families with small children utilize the library to participate in programs and to check out books before 3:30 p.m. An important precursor to success as a learner is being read to, so restricting children’s access to the books and educational programs offered at the library by drastically limiting library hours is unthinkable.

Stephanie Weber has updated our library materials and added programs that make the Florence County Library equivalent to those in much larger communities. I choose to work at the library because I realize its immense value to the community and feel very proud to be associated with the facility.

I don’t want to diminish or downplay the concern for the safety of the students posed by the intruder or any possible future incident that may occur, but there are other solutions.

Numerous security policies and technologies have recently been established regulating entry into the school building and the library, as well as monitoring traffic between the library and the school. The school security system worked in the recent incident, successfully preventing the intruder from entering the building. The general public, in large numbers, has free access to students in our school when they attend sporting events, concerts, open house, parent teacher conferences, graduation, and Memorial Day and Veterans Day programs. This public access has the potential for far greater risk to students than patrons using the library, who are separated from the school by a locked door.

It has been my observation that the time students spend in the library primarily has been used to do homework, use their Chromebooks and socialize. Surely those activities could take place within the school proper. Students wishing to access library materials could do so before 11 a.m. when the library opens to the public, as has been past policy.

I urge those in position to set policy for the library that you reconsider shortening the hours of operation of the library and first seek input from the community regarding this matter.

Restricting public access to the library by severely limiting the library hours is a very drastic move and would be a huge disservice to the community. The security measures for the school worked in keeping the intruder from entering and increasing security measures for the library could be considered.

Please seek a solution that protects students without denying our citizens access to our public library.

Thank you.

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