Niagara Gazette — I was reminded of that after Hurricane Sandy battered the Rockaways in the Borough of Queens. Nearly four feet of water smashed through the glass front of a branch library there, ripping thousands of books from the shelves and scattering them onto the sidewalk. A spokesman for the Queens library system, said 'People were just wandering back and forth in shock; they didn't know what else to do." Suddenly, a colorful mobile library bus arrived and opened its doors. When the people spotted the bus parked there for their use, they just burst into tears. Amidst all the debris, sand, glass and pieces of the boardwalk was a vehicle offering warmth, power outlets, emergency information and books.
As it turned out, the storm destroyed more than 100,000 items including books and DVDs in four branch libraries in the Rockaways used by more than 600,000 people last year. While many struggled to put their lives back in order, others found support at the mobile library: information on jobs, transportation, school relocation,Thanksgiving dinner, a cup of free coffee and the chance just to be with people.
Can you imagine what the reaction would be in the Rockaways if someone suggested cutting the library budget? That wouldn't fly.
Perhaps Ms. Petrazzoulo said it best, quoting another source that offered this thought on the subject: "Cutting library budgets in a time of recession is like cutting hospital funds at the time of a plague."
Contact reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.