Having worked for the city of Newport for almost 12 years, I recognize the financial impact that the COVID pandemic has had on all revenue streams for private and public entities. The city's decision to cut staff and service hours at the Newport Public Library is understandable for the short term, but we all must insist that this cut in staff and service hours is only for the short term. The public library is one of the most cherished and used institutions in Newport. Children, teens, working adults, seniors and yes, the homeless, need access to the library's programs and services.
I am writing to make sure we don't fall into the trap of getting used to and accepting the limited number of hours the library is open to serve its citizens. I know how city government works. Believe me, if people don't speak out, there will be no rush to restore hours and services at Newport Public Library.
In city government, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. There are a lot of competing squeaky wheels out there, and the library will get pushed out of the picture unless the citizens of Newport keep this issue in front of the mayor and city council. In short, bug the hell out of them, and continue bugging them. Insist hours and services be restored at Newport Public Library. Don't fall asleep and lose a precious community resource.
Editor’s note: Ted Smith is a retired director of the Newport Public Library.