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LETTER: Scrapping library co-op hurts most vulnerable

Simcoe County Library Co-operative 'provided a much-valued and needed service to vulnerable individuals,' reader says
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Letter to the editor and open letter to Simcoe County council:

I am writing to express my disappointment and disbelief at this council’s decision to disband the Simcoe County Library Co-operative, which was made on April 26 on behalf of myself and my community, and especially our most vulnerable residents and their families.

I fear that your decision has not only been targeted towards vulnerable individuals, but will have a negative and serious impact on the most vulnerable members of our communities, and their families, and I have to wonder if you have considered the total and devastating impact this decision will have.

Having spent 20 years as a professional caregiver, both in long-term care and as a community caregiver, I know how vitally important having access to a free and accessible rotation of media materials is to the intellectual, mental, and emotional health and wellness of vulnerable individuals.

A healthy, active mind is just as integral and important as a healthy body. Yet when the body fails us, this becomes an even more crucial need for any human being.

During my 20 years of professional caregiving, I witnessed first-hand what a vital role that our library programs and services play in the lives of our senior citizens, disabled and vulnerable persons and their families. Many of the individuals I cared for were “housebound” due to various health issues, disabilities and illnesses, and therefore could not participate in many other social programs and physical activities that able-bodied persons enjoy.

In these instances, through access to a rotation of accessible media through our library programs that provided them materials such as large print books, audiobooks, DVDs, and music CDs, these vulnerable individuals maintained dignity and control of their own lives and well-being. They were given the ability to remain emotionally, mentally, and intellectually functioning individuals that have much value in our society.

These are very valuable and important parts of the dignity and health of our fellow human beings that should never be taken away from, or denied to, them.

In addition to having spent 20 years as a professional caregiver to individuals that used such programs, I will also share that I, myself, spent four years bedridden due to health issues. I am also a partially blind individual, whose total vision will one day likely completely fail.

During these four years, I had very limited access to the “outside world” or any healthy means of socializing and interaction.

I can not adequately explain nor express the impacts this experience had on my own emotional and mental well-being, in addition to the physical suffering I already faced.

What I can convey is that having access to a rotation of books and other media not only allowed me relief and comfort, but it also allowed me to remain a participant in the “outside world” and find value and dignity in myself through learning and intellectual stimulation.

Thus, I do know first-hand how important these library programs are and what a “lifeline” they provide to our most vulnerable persons and their families, because I, myself, was also one such individual.

Therefore, I beg you to re-examine and reconsider your decision to disband the Simcoe County Library Co-operative, which provided a much-valued and needed service to vulnerable individuals and their families.

To take away these services was tantamount to declaring that you place little value on the enjoyment, health and quality of life of our most vulnerable members of society.

In addition, your decision cuts valuable services to the only community hub that is currently available to Ramara’s families, and downloads these services onto taxpayers.

I would also like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to my Ramara Township council representatives on Simcoe County council for voting against this decision, and for valuing and thinking of our vulnerable and/or disabled citizens and their families.

Mary A. Reed