Silver Hill Third Graders Beg Fiorentini: ‘Fund the Library’

Silver Hill teacher Kerri Alves helps third grader Sebastian read his letter of support about the Haverhill Public Library to Mayor James J. Fiorentini and members of the City Council at the May 13, 2019 meeting. (WHAV News photograph)

When it comes to the Haverhill Public Library this budget season, it’s all about dollars and cents, but if you ask third grade readers from Silver Hill Elementary School, there’s a pretty famous wizard from Hogwarts who matters just as much, too.

Putting their recently learned public speaking and persuasive letter writing skills to use, several third graders with a love for literacy received a few extra credit points for speaking up to Mayor James J. Fiorentini and City Councilors Tuesday night in a bid to close the public library’s $195,000 funding gap.

Teacher Kerri Alves introduced her students, sharing how an October visit from librarians and the Library van really struck a chord with the youngsters, who joined nearly 200 of their peers to check out books using their very own library cards.

Sebastian and Annie were two such students.

“I believe it is very crucial for the Library to stay funded so that children we be able to check out books…also, I’ve always had a love for building LEGOs, so I think you should keep the funds the way it was months ago so the LEGO program can still happen,” the boy said.

Annie, like many of her Silver Hill peers, pointed to the “Harry Potter” book series as one of the ways she learned to love reading. Without funding, she reasoned, events like the Library’s “Harry Potter”-themed night could cease to exist.

“The Library should be funded because the librarians brought the Library van to our school. It was so fun,” she said. “The people let us keep the books for one or two weeks. The Library should also be funded because of the Harry Potter night.”

Council Vice President Thomas J. Sullivan applauded the youngsters’ willingness to stay up past their bedtime in an effort to inspire change in their city.

“You did a great job and gave some compelling, rational arguments about how we have to fund the Library,” Sullivan told the students. “The Mayor is sitting here and he was listening. I’m sure he was very impressed. Mr. Mayor, no pressure, but I think you’re under the gun to do something for the Library in the next budget.”

As WHAV has previously reported, the 99 Main St. Library is at risk of losing accreditation if it does not close the funding gap. The Library’s Board of Trustees—of which Fiorentini is Chairman--and the City of Haverhill partner jointly to oversee the Library and over the last 11 years, the Trustees increased their budget 41 percent, while the city boosted their contribution 0.2 percent.

Haverhill has failed to meet requirements for certification 14 times in last 16 years but received waivers, Barrett said. Once a library is de-certified, the location must be fully funded for three years and cannot participate in the consortium, or shared collection of books and resources from other local libraries.

Ahead of this spring’s budget session’s Fiorentini made a promise he intends to keep to the children: “We will never take the Public Library away from you,” he said.”

Comments are closed.