Underserved communities rely on public libraries

06/23/2014 5:46 PM

06/23/2014 5:47 PM

The polling data reported in the June 10 article, Herald poll: Miami-Dade voters don’t want a library tax hike, is shocking, disappointing and, quite frankly, hard to believe.

The poll, which surveyed 400 of the nearly 1.3 million registered voters in Miami-Dade, finds across-the-board opposition to restoring funds to our library system with an alleged 55 percent of African Americans, 68 percent of Hispanics and a plurality of older voters all opposed to restoring adequate revenue to our libraries.

What I find most counter-intuitive about this data is that African Americans, Hispanics, and older Miami-Dade residents — and their children — are among the three demographics that will be hit the hardest by reduced services.

Many members of these underserved communities rely heavily on the library as their only source of computer and Internet access because they don’t have that access at home. In fact, nearly 49,000 residents used the Model City Branch Library alone between October 2013 and March 2014.

So I find it hard to swallow when the individual who conducted this survey, states: “One of the things that we kept hearing over and over again was that people felt that the libraries are less and less relevant to life in this community, and that technology is making libraries much more unnecessary.”

Tell that to the people without access to computers. Their voices are clearly not represented in this poll.

If we are to consider these statistics as indicative of the sentiments of our county, we need to, at best, take them with a grain of salt. This was a poorly structured and polarizing poll, which does not reflect the sentiment of the community that I know and represent.

Kenneth M. Kilpatrick, president,

Brownsville Civic Neighborhood

Association, Inc., Miami

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