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The county executive's proposed drastic cut in library funding will virtually close all libraries. In addition to the $18 million in cuts, there is the added cost of accrued leave payout and unemployment payments required by a layoff. This will be a deathblow to our library system.

Supporting the public libraries is a basic obligation of government. An excellent library system attracts people to a community. All sectors of the community -- old and young, rich and poor, business and education -- use library services.

During the recent recession, our libraries have been an important support for people seeking jobs and new career opportunities. Library use has continued to grow every year, even as the population has declined.

The library also contributes to a community's quality of life. Time and again, residents have opposed the closure of libraries and have supported dedicated funds for them. We cannot let our libraries collapse. Granted, there is a fiscal crisis that needs to be solved. But the crisis will not be solved by destroying our libraries and eliminating a basic service that meets the needs of all citizens. Our government representatives, from the governor to local officials, must immediately act to resolve this crisis that threatens to destroy an important community pillar.

Karen Sherwood

President, Hamburg Public Library

Board of Trustees