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Posted: December 11, 2009 12:30 a.m.

Community Christmas

Christmas came early this year for me. I was elected president of the Friends of the Newton County Library, starting in 2010. My involvement with libraries started many years ago. My first after-school job was working in a public library not much larger than my living and dining rooms combined. To paraphrase Charlie Brown, it was a "very sincere little library."

Our "sincere little library," the Newton County Library, is facing a bleak Christmas this season. The total budget cuts, both state and local, run approximately $270,000. Every book, CD, DVD, movie or audio book, purchased by the library is enjoyed by multiple people. Every $1 the library spends results in a benefit to the community of $10.

The budget cuts of $270,000 mean that we have lost $2.7 million in benefits from the library this year. That multiplier effect works the other way as well. A gift of $100 to the library is the equivalent of giving $1,000 to the entire community.

We are all going to hear and see appeals to donate food to the food bank, toys to toy charities and money to other worthy causes that should have our attention. But once eaten, a meal is gone; toys and clothes are rapidly outgrown. The knowledge and skills that come from resources at the local library are a long term benefit to individuals and our community as a whole.

While thinking about ourselves and our families, let’s not forget about the community that forms such an important part of our lives. A gift to the Newton County library benefits all of our family and friends, past, present and future. As the ghost of Jacob Marley might say: "The business of the library was my business."

Patrick Durusau is a resident of Covington. His columns appear regularly on Fridays.

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