To the City Council and Mayor of Birmingham,

As the Executive Council of the Alabama Library Association, we strongly urge you to reconsider the proposed budget cuts to the Birmingham Public Library system and fund one of the most important resources the City of Birmingham offers to all of its citizens, especially the disadvantaged and the destitute. The planned cuts in services and furloughs to hundreds of essential employees will cause incalculable damage to the adults, students, and children who rely on the system’s materials, resources, services, and expertise to find employment, access the internet, research school projects, and literacy.

One might consider libraries in our communities a quiet asset, but they remain the undisputed advocate for the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of the United States of America. They house and quantify the depositories of thoughts, debates, history, development, and many other aspects that are the foundation of American society. From the archives detailing the Civil Rights Movement to picture books that teach a child to read, the library provides a place where we can learn to build things up, take things down, grow as a civilization, and transform our communities.

Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an intense financial crisis in the City of Birmingham due to the loss of needed tax revenue. Further, as Mayor and City Council, you have a duty to make necessary cuts to City services in order to balance the shortfall. The library system will likely need to absorb some of these losses. The proposed solution, however, requiring the furlough of most library employees, is simply horrifying and draconian in the extreme. It cannot advance as planned.

We ask you to reverse course on this action and fully fund the Birmingham Public Library and its nineteen locations. If you must cut funding for this crucial service, we ask you to allow the Library Board of Trustees to make the necessary reductions in the least damaging manner possible. Most of all we ask you to remember: your library is essential. Do not destroy it.


Alabama Library Association Executive Council