Vote like it matters

(Photo: Sharon McCloskey)

(Photo: Sharon McCloskey)

Plenty of folks who know me know that I'm pretty passionate about the voting privilege we've been blessed to have and obliged to honor in this country. Often I've found myself teary-eyed after casting my ballot. And when they were small I used to take my kids in with me when I voted in the hope of passing along just how precious the right to vote is.

Regrettably I've missed some opportunities, especially when it came to local elections. This year I made a point though of returning from overseas in time to vote in today's New Jersey elections.

I'm not going to editorialize here, except to remind folks that decisions are in fact made by those who show up and to offer up a heartfelt endorsement on another issue I'm passionate about, the gift of reading.

As I've written about already here, New Jersey has a public question on the ballot that provides for much needed bond funding to strengthen our public libraries. 

Why vote YES on state public question No. 1, to approve the issuance of $125 million in bonds to fund critical physical and technological improvements at public libraries?

Libraries are sacred spaces, worthy of the respect and preservation that come with that designation.

Unfortunately, New Jersey ranks 34th in the nation for state aid to local public libraries, according to the New Jersey Library Association, and it’s been more than 15 years since the last infusion of public money helped libraries grow. At least half of the buildings need to upgrade facilities to accommodate those with disabilities.  Others need electrical and technological improvements and more physical space to meet demand.

There are always competing demands on the public fisc, and taking on debt to meet those demands may dishearten some.

But making our libraries accessible to the disabled, expanding their spaces to accommodate a growing desire for reading, learning and engaging, and upgrading technology to help patrons compete with other online learners – these are laudable goals, well worth the price tag.