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By J. Samuel Diaz                        Follow East Palo Alto Today on
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Wednesday, September 11, 2012            
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 Continued from page 1   

The benefits a library offers
A library, on the other hand, offers a place to learn, a place to get away from the problems at home, a place to rent movies and documentaries, a place to borrow books and read them and … a place to offer community events.

Libraries offer our students the chance to finish their homework and to read new ideas that enable them to write better articles and perform better scholastically.

And if patrons don’t have their own personal computers with internet access? Well, shoot, the East Palo Alto library lends laptops to patrons and provides desktop computers as well.

Now imagine today’s library but only better.  Imagine a place with more books, more work tables, more computers, a business center, a science center, student conference rooms with blackboards, and plenty of reading areas that basically make it a fun place for folks of all ages to frequent and enjoy.

Imagine what could be done with $150,000,000 in construction money and $40,000,000 in maintenance money if all that money were invested in our county’s libraries?  Imagine the impact it would have, especially in our county’s outlying communities that usually have to rely on themselves?

The legacy we leave behind
I wonder what future generations and cultures will conclude about our society’s experiment with democracy.  Will they conclude we actually had democracy and freedom for all?  Or will they see that each year we criminalized and imprisoned more and more of our residents, so much so that year after year larger and larger prisons and jails had to be built.  Will they read that inmates made only a few cents in hourly wages and became a new, enslaved prison force that large corporations had the right to exploit?

And, forgive me for this poor analogy, but what if future generations came to the conclusion that what we built with our prison system was really just an enhanced form of slavery, where large corporations replaced the plantations of the old South and where prisoners and parolees became the new chattel assets that could be cycled into or out of  our prison system based upon corporate needs?

I hate that word chattel, but it’s the only one I can find that truly describes what I see happening in our criminal justice system.   I wonder why we can’t find or even raise charitable funds to build fantastic libraries countywide, something from which all residents can benefit and enjoy.  I wonder why our county cannot become the new center for intellectual and scholastic learning, where folks of different heritages can live together and prosper together.  I wonder.



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