Losing The Library

Theo Sullivan is a Staples water polo coach — and Westport Public Library lover.

Recently, he urged the Board of Finance to restore cuts proposed in next year’s budget.  If not, he noted, the library might have to close on many Sundays.

When he told his team what he’d said, one responded:  “I didn’t know they were allowed to close a library.”

“They” can do whatever “they” want.

So Westporters have barraged RTM members with phone calls and emails, pleading for restoration.  The RTM Finance Committee recommended restoring $45,000 cut by the Board of Finance.  The full RTM now must agree, by at least a 70 percent vote.

The Westport Library is busy all the time -- but always welcoming.

The proposed cuts have touched citizens in ways that others — aimed at public safety, recreation, even education — have not.

The reason, director Maxine Bleiweis thinks, is because the library is integrally tied in with the way the town identifies itself.

“The library embodies how nearly everyone learns, grows, and becomes creative,” Maxine says.  “It’s like part of the Westport air — and now the air supply may be cut off.”

“We don’t have time to be closed,” she says.  “We have to be open, to feed and nurture all that goes on in this community.”

Our discussion was interrupted — it seemed almost like a setup, but it wasn’t — by a call to Maxine from Keith Richards’ publicist.  If the Rolling Stones’ PR guy needs the Westport library, there can’t be anyone in the area who doesn’t.

If the library can’t get no satisfaction through the restoration of funds, Sunday closings are a real possibility.  That’s a better option, Bleiweis says, than cutting staff and services whenever the doors are open.

“You can’t have a restaurant that functions at less than full capacity,” the library director notes.  And — as has been proven over and over — the Westport library is as much a part of town life as food and wine.

Or the air that we breathe.

(The RTM begins voting Monday to accept or restore Board of Finance budget cut recommendations for all town departments.  The library is one of the last agenda items — meaning a vote may not come until Tuesday, or even Wednesday.  In the meantime, Westporters are contacting RTM members, and/or making plans to attend the meeting — whenever it is held.)

13 responses to “Losing The Library

  1. Most restaurants function way below capacity, relying on Friday and Saturday to cover the rest of the week. The Library’s case can be convincingly made without hyperbole.

  2. The Dude Abides

    Since when is the library a hub for shoppers????They shop ’till they drop anyhow, anytime, anywhere. As far as eateries, the library doesn’t open until 2:oo p.m. I don’t see the connection?? I go to the library Sunday because no one is there. Revenue down? Tighten the belt and stop whining! Maybe Phil Graham was right. America has become a bunch of whiners. Does anybody remember we are at War?

  3. I agree that the library is an important part of the community but think Maxine went over the top on this one. It is not like the air we breathe.

    In these budget-conscious times, these things happen.

  4. Even in this age of the Internet and info at our figure tips sometimes you just need a library. Your home, your office, your place to do your best thinking or work is not at these places, but at the library. Many less distractions and an environ that allows you to be amongst works that inspire. These things are seven days a week not six. Sad sad sad

  5. Go to church on Sunday if you need inspiration.

  6. Sensible One

    If the library closed on Sunday, I don’t think that would be the end of the world. Besides, with all the warm weather coming our way – everybody loves to be outside – plus swimming, beach camp, tennis and golf – do we REALLY need it to be open on Sunday?

    Could we not manage a visit on Saturday instead?

    I would rather have the library close on Sunday, than take money away from our Police and Fire Departments. Anybody ever look at the Westport crime reports on this very blog? I did the other day, and whilst we don’t have murders here of late, we do have lots of breaking and entering and larceny. There is a reason that we have such a lovely, safe, town – our Police do a wonderful job (although I wish they would crack down on the cell phone and texting issue while driving).

    I also agree with Mary – Maxine went over the top on this one – I don’t think that anyone in this town feels that the library is integrally tied with how the town identifies itself.

    I, myself, hardly ever visit the library except to donate the books I have already read.

  7. seems to me the library is an integral part of what makes Westport the textured, inspiring, appealing community it is. It’s hard to put a value on community, but isn’t it a major reason we celebrate this town? And isn’t the library at the heart of this?

  8. Sensible One

    Sorry, I disagree…. the Westport Country Playhouse, Longshore, Westport Art Center, summer concerts at the Levitt, the farmer’s market, all come before a building that houses books.

  9. While I am sure the Library gratefully appreciates book donations from Sensible One, visiting the Library would reveal that it’s more than just a book house.

  10. Oh COME ON now! It ain’t that special and the town ain’t that special. It is a lovely place to live. No more, no less. The library is good but it ain’t no Library of Congress which is closed on Sundays. Get a taste of reality. We are in a recession for God’s sakes.

  11. Sensible One

    My gosh Igor, we could definitely be friends!!!!

  12. I don’t like anyone.

  13. Sensible One