It is disheartening to read about our city closing its public libraries because of budget reductions {news story, Oct. 12}. At a time when we hear so much discussion by politicians and the media regarding the educational problems of our youth, it is ironic that we fail to support important institutions like libraries.

Several years ago a Washington Post reporter interviewed my mother. She was asked the question: How did your son become a writer? My mother replied that she took her children to the library on a regular basis when they were small. Today I take my son and daughter to the Mount Pleasant branch library every month. My children are developing good reading habits and skills. They are beginning to have favorite authors and are enjoying the library.

The citizens of Washington should be outraged about the libraries closing. We must protect our history and culture. It is vital that knowledge and information continue to reach young people. The doors of all of our libraries must remain open -- it should not be a question of money.


For the past decade the expenditures of the District have grown beyond its revenues, with the present fiscal crisis the result. Now we learn that measures are being taken to reduce this bloat -- by cutting the public library! Seven branches are to shut their doors, with what remains offering reduced service. How many students will lose their only quiet place of study? How many aged and poor will lose access to reading?

One might find some understanding for these measures if libraries had enjoyed the munificence received by other branches of the D.C. government during this period, but a casual observer hardly needs to examine the financial records to know that such has not been the case. Indeed the library system's means have obviously shrunk from year to year. One might find some satisfaction for the measures if the library personnel had the ugly reputation of some parts of the D.C. government, as so many letters in these columns bear witness. But my own experience over more than a quarter century has been that the staff, with rare exceptions, is competent and courteous.

The District needs to undertake economies, but they should be made after arriving at a much better understanding of value. LOUIS BROWN Washington