To the Editor:

With thousands upon thousands of our tax-funded materials being deleted from the 10 branches of the Somerset County Library System daily, and without public input, we need to ask ourselves what is the purpose of our County Library System.  

Is it for programming? No. 

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Watchung Library has experienced a significant reduction in programming dollars over the years and the Friends are discouraged from supporting additional programs.   

Is the purpose to support our community? Apparently not. 

Our high school students are being told that the research materials that they need have been deleted system-wide.   

Is it to find that certain book title you’ve been meaning to read? Chances are it is no longer there, but we are repeatedly told, the SCLS can always buy it back. 

Whose money is being spent so wastefully? Ours, of course.   

Is deselection an ongoing process? Yes.

The SCLS repeatedly insists that there is always deselection to get rid of worn, out-of-date materials.  Yet when pressed, the director will admit that the process has been stepped up significantly. The administration has reams of statistics on library usage and checkouts, but when we ask for specific numbers of how many materials have been deleted, they have no information. This lack of transparency is quite troubling.

What are we getting with all of these empty spaces in the libraries?  Community spaces.  In the rush to empty the buildings however, we have not been told what will be in these spaces.  Where is the public input?  Have the residents been asked what they want to do in these empty buildings?  Our towns own the buildings, not the SCLS.

What can you do?  Look around in your local library.  Ask your library manager and staff questions about what is going to remain. Write to James S. McGarry, Jr, Chair of the Somerset County Library Commission at commission@sclibnj.org.  Go to the next library commission meeting on Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Manville Library.  I urge you to speak up soon or it will be too late.

Sincerely,

Diana J. Churchill

President

Friends of the Watchung Library