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GREAT JOB, COUNCIL, SUPPORTING LIBRARY

As a former president of the Friends of the New Port Richey Library and a longtime library patron, I want to applaud the New Port Richey City Council for supporting the library during the current budget cycle. Many districts and states, including Florida, have done studies on the return on investment in public libraries, the linchpin institutions of American democracy, literacy and lifelong learning.

These studies generally show that public libraries, especially new urban libraries, stimulate economic development by drawing people into the city, where they patronize restaurants and other businesses. The increased foot traffic in the municipal library's environs is good for downtown merchants.

The studies also show that good public libraries enhance the character and quality-of-life rating of a community.

Public libraries today are much more than reading rooms or book lenders: They are public spaces where people come together to enjoy cultural arts; expand their knowledge and skills, especially computer and language skills; explore solutions to common problems; and provide their children with joyful learning experiences.

The New Port Richey Library's consistently outstanding performance in this area and others led to its 2006 winning of the Florida Library Association's first Library of the Year award.

The studies show that a first-rate public library projects a compelling image to potential visitors, employers, and people seeking relocation or a second home site. Creative, innovative, entrepreneurial people in business, technology and the professions are attracted to cities with excellent public libraries.

The most widely publicized recent example is Seattle, where more than 25,000 people attended the 2004 opening of the city's new central library.

These are the knowledge workers Florida wants to attract to boost its fledgling biotechnology sector. Support for public libraries is one barometer companies and talented individuals use to judge the quality of a community.

The New Port Richey Library successfully combines stability with progress. With limited and dwindling resources, its director, staff, and volunteers render consistently heroic service to the entire west Pasco community.

The library is central to the city's cultural heritage, contemporary vitality and future prospects. It inspires civic pride and community cohesion. With increased support, it has the potential to launch a local renaissance, branding New Port Richey as a vibrant community where culture, public amenities, progress, education and public-private cooperation are valued.

Carmine J. Bell, Hudson

Don't blame us for feeding strays

Have you ever tried calling to report picking up strays to the Humane Society or anywhere else? They will tell you where to pick up traps for us to catch them and bring them in to be spayed and they will call you to pick them up to be released outside again. This doesn't solve the problem of feeding strays.

If we turn them over to the Humane Society or ASPCA, they need to keep them to be socialized and adopted, not euthanized. Don't blame the nice guys for feeding undernourished cats and dogs that come to our doorstop looking for a handout. That's not fair. We're the ones trying to be being humane.

Under a proposed ordinance, New Port Richey residents can- not take in strays if they already have three other pets. Is this becoming a totalitarian state or what? You are pitting neighbors against neighbors in tattling.

Maybe you should do a neighborhood poll or the city should hire someone to pick up the strays for neutering, etc. Where are your priorities?

D.M. Bimmerle, Holiday

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