The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by Walter Ruehlig, Antioch Unified School District Board President.
As the President of the Antioch School Board and as Antioch’s former (thirteen years) Representative to the County Library Commission and two-time Chairman to that organization, I am no stranger to the needs of libraries.
Speaking, though, for myself in the role of private citizen, I am convinced that libraries are not a luxury but are an economic necessity. Great cities have great libraries. Libraries are simply a gateway to community engagement and cultural enrichment.
They are today’s veritable Meccas and crossroads, serving as a hub of traditional quiet reading, study and research while intersecting with modern technology. Call them the 21st century town square as they bring together people of all ages, interests and economic and social strata.
As people look to buy into communities with good schools they also take an interest in the available educational and cultural support system.
Libraries do, then, matter in the big picture and they matter on many levels.
Consider the tale of two cities. Deer Valley High has a great library and is fortunate to be across the street from Prewett Park and the modern library there. Our downtown library, though, suffers from wear and tear.
It is also cramped and in need of more hours of service because of the fact that, invariably, less families in the downtown have computer access than in more affluent S.E. Antioch. As is, the downtown library is open 28 hours and Prewett Park 35. That’s, plain and simple, an inequity, particularly to our youth and seniors.
The City is now in the process of apportioning excess funds. I urge our Council at their next meeting to vote in favor of using some of the newfound money for extended library hours for the 18th Street location.