In an effort to save Salinas, California’s public library system, which is slated to shut down because of budget shortfalls, dozens of authors, community activists, and supporters organized an Emergency 24-hour “Read-In” outside the Cesar Chavez Public Library in Salinas, from Saturday, April 2 at 1pm to Sunday, April 3 at 1pm. Then at 1pm on Sunday, the Read-In merged with the annual Cesar Chavez March and Holiday Celebrations.
“We’re telling people to bring their tents, sleeping bags and favorite books. We’ll be here all day and all night to show our determination to keep our libraries open,” says Efren Barajas of United Farmworkers of America, one of the groups organizing the read-in.
The read-in included actor Hector Elizondo; poets Gary Soto and Jose Montoya; community leaders Dolores Huerta and Salinas Mayor Anna Caballero; musician Dr. Loco; and writers Maxine Hong Kingston, Riane Eisler, James Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, Jack Kornfield, Meredith Maran, and Wes “Scoop” Nisker, among others. In addition to the read-a-thon there was also music, movies, children’s activities, and an overnight camp-out.
Salinas is one of hundreds of communities throughout the United States whose libraries systems are facing severe cutbacks or elimination. According to the American Library Association, projected and announced library funding cuts have topped $111.2 million in the last 18 months, and almost every single state in the U.S. is facing library funding cuts of up to 50 percent.