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VIN MANNIX column | Keep libraries untouchable to cuts

There’s a book I’m looking forward to reading one of these days.

It’s Dennis LeHane’s latest crime-fiction novel, “Moonlight Mile.”

My wife entered my request into the Manatee County library’s website to put a hold on it.

I’m 85th on the waiting list.

Which means I might get to read it by Christmas.

The reason I mention it is to illustrate in a small, personal way what our libraries mean to us.

Ed Hunzeker, take note.

The county administrator has been beating the drums about looming cuts to the county budget.

He estimates $12 million to $14 million will have to be whacked.

That’s on top of the $122 million cut -- 183 jobs, too -- over the last four years.

The low hanging fruit, Hunzeker called it.

Compared to that, the next round of downsizing is “going to get painful,” he said.

Not just now, but in the future when community resources we take for granted may not exist for the next generations.

Among those potential targets:

Beach lifeguards.

Transit system.

Libraries.

Can’t imagine county beaches without county lifeguards.

Or public transportation, the only way so many folks get around.

Libraries?

Time out!

“There is no law that says we have to have libraries,” Hunzeker told the Manatee Tiger Bay Club in December.

He said he was merely making a point.

Well, he has our attention.

Ed, don’t even think about it.

Libraries are sacrosanct, an irreplaceable treasure.

Many times when I’ve gone over to the Central Library, I’ve witnessed tutoring going on, young adults packed into the computer lab, mothers toting an armful of children’s books to the check out, her little ones in tow.

For those without Internet access at home, the library is a lifeline, especially if they’re out of work and looking for a job.

For me, the library has also been a source for stories and historical research, particularly for documents pertaining to old Manatee.

For pleasure, I love the classic movies on DVD.

The Marx Brothers comedies, too.

Or keeping an eye out for the latest James Lee Burke mystery to hit the new books section.

My wife is also a library devotee.

My mother-in-law, even more so.

They’re always calling one another about good books and what’s available.

So if Hunzeker’s suggestion about libraries closing ever came to pass, my wife would be hopping mad.

My mother-in-law?

Oh, boy.

The county administrator doesn’t want to see that.

Multiply them by several thousand and imagine them storming the county commission chambers.

Or Hunzeker’s office.

Meantime, I’ll just wait until “Moonlight Mile” is ready to be picked up.

Hope those 84 Dennis LeHane buffs are fast readers.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL. 34206 or e-mail him at vmannix@bradenton.com. Please include a phone number for verification purposes.

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