Book Lovers From All Over California Join Locals in an Historic 24-Hour Read-In:
Authors Maxine Hong Kingston and Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, Actor Hector Elizondo, and Dozens of Others Join Effort to Stop Closing of Public Libraries in Salinas, CA.
Salinas, CA 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 have organized an Emergency 24-hour Read-In outside the Cesar Chavez Public Library in Salinas, from Saturday, April 2 at 1 PM to Sunday, April 3 at 1 PM. "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 the United Farmworkers, one of the groups organizing the read-in.
Joining the read-in will be actors Hector Elizondo and Mike Farrell; poets Gary Soto and Jose Montoya; community leaders Dolores Huerta and Salinas Mayor Anna Caballero; musician Dr. Loco; and writers Maxine Hong Kingston, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, 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 will also be 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.
One of the groups organizing the read-in, CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is highlighting the fact that there is always money available for war but not for our schools and libraries. "Something is terribly awry when Salinas taxpayers have spent $80.5 million on the Iraq war, but they don't have the $5 million needed to keep the libraries open," says CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin.
"People will be coming to the Read-In from all over the state to show their love of libraries and to join us in calling on Governor Schwarzenegger to find a long-term solution to this crisis," says Peter Kweik of event co-sponsor the Salinas Action League.
Sponsors of the Emergency 24-Hour Read-In are the United Farmworkers of America, AFL-CIO, Salinas Action League, CODEPINK: Women for Peace, La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), Global Exchange, and The Citizen Project.