Letter: Library is a Public Good

Michael Turton’s report on Butterfield Library finances (April 17) is a disheartening reminder of just how far away we are from any sense of the true value of a public good. Julia Butterfield understood that, and left us with two gifts, public goods dedicated to our education and uplift, and to our health. Alas, the Butterfield Hospital has been turned into property, to be bought and sold, and to serve the wealth and ambitions of a few.

The Library has yet to meet that fate, surviving in a reduced state only because of the dedication of citizens with an old-fashioned cachet of priorities and values that cannot be cashed in or cashed out, because they are not dollar-driven.

Still, no margin, no mission, and the library is asking residents of Cold Spring to approve a referendum, to be included with the Haldane School budget vote on May 19, for additional annual funding of $73,150. This money would be used for a number of library goods, services, programs, staffing and staff salary upgrades. It will not include benefits or a pension for Gillian Thorpe, the only library director Putnam County so lacking.

Perhaps the referendum will also provide residents of Cold Spring an opportunity to check their own values and priorities at the ballot box. Like the man said, “Follow the money.”

James O’Barr


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