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Councilmember Kevin Faulconer reportedly left the May 5 city council library budget meeting to speak at a National Day of Prayer event, so he missed public input that included a woman brandishing a spatula.

Valorie Matthews held the spatula while discussing the harm to children if the council approved mayor Jerry Sanders’s proposal to cut branch-library hours to 18.5 per week.

Children raised with limited library resources could end up employed “flipping burgers,” Matthews said. She blasted councilmembers who voted in 2009 to reduce library hours. She told Marti Emerald that her public career “is in the toilet bowl.” Noting that Tony Young supported balloon parades and Comic-Con, Matthews said children wouldn’t be able to read comic books, but could identify balloon colors.

There was discussion about using volunteers instead of library employees. Library director Deborah Barrow said volunteers help with story times but couldn’t be allowed to use the computer system containing patrons’ information. Volunteers are needed for the literacy and summer reading ambassador programs, she said, but librarians must have master degrees.

Emerald said, “We need the volunteers, but we also need a core of people who are educated.”

Residents also rallied for library staffers. Anna Daniels said the city wouldn’t replace an attorney in the city attorney’s office with a volunteer. “I want to volunteer [there],” she quipped.

The council will discuss the use of volunteers for the library and Park and Recreation Department on May 9.

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andrewj May 7, 2011 @ 9:48 a.m.

This is an interesting strategy -- reducing library hours and parks and recreation hours--then bring in volunteers--in other words getting rid of decently paid employees. People want the economy to rebound but they don't want to pay people a decent salary.

As for library hours, ahhh America's finest city...


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