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Letters to the Editor: Why would you close a library because crime is up?

Four boys piece together a puzzle at a library table.
Children work on a puzzle at the Clara M. Jackson Branch of the Kern County Library in McFarland, Calif.
(Tomas Ovalle / For The Times)

To the editor: A proposal by the city of McFarland in California’s Central Valley to close its sole library in order to move the police department into the city-owned building is short-sighted and a disservice to its residents.

The reasoning behind the library closure is absurd and ironic. Amid increasing crime and gang violence, City Manager and Police Chief Kenny Williams sees the need for a larger police force to mitigate the problems. But abundant research correlates high crime rates with low literacy rates and rampant unemployment.

Removing a library takes away learning opportunities. In McFarland, the library is a popular gathering place for people of all age groups, but young people especially. Adults use libraries to locate community resources and conduct job searches.

Providing a space for people to gain knowledge makes a community healthier. If you want to increase high school graduation rates, improve the lives of residents and build stronger communities, leave the library doors open.

Surely there is enough land in Kern County to build a new library facility. The state is flush with taxpayer dollars. There are grants and other kinds of funding from corporations and nonprofits that promote literacy. Hopefully, this story will have a happy ending.

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Karen Neville, La Puente

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To the editor: I was struck by the photograph of joyful young Nicolas Maldonado selecting a book from the McFarland public library. As the timeless expression goes, a picture is worth a thousand words — over even more in this case.

Thank you for sharing this picture.

Jack Schuster, Claremont


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