Children being read to during story time at the San Benito County Free Library. File photo.
Children being read to during story time at the San Benito County Free Library. File photo.

This community opinion was contributed by Hollister Councilman Marty Richman. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.

The most populated portion of San Benito County, Hollister and adjacent areas, is in dire need of a modern and expanded library/resource center, but there are elected officials who won’t even ask the voters if they would fund it. What’s the problem, are they afraid the public will say yes?

Reluctant county officials point at the city’s measly $15,000 a year contribution to the San Benito County Free Library operating budget to cover a population of 40,000 while reluctant city officials point to the uneven tax-sharing agreement applied to annexed properties. Those petty peripheral issues are just convenient excuses. If they were not available, the naysayers would simply find others.

A recent column by George Will explained that humans get their total aptitudes in two ways, naturally and by education-socialization.

The problem comes, “when the transmission of cognitive aptitudes and skills becomes so much a matter… of family advantages that a child’s prospects can be largely predicted by information about his or her parents.” Sociologist Richard Sennett called it the “hidden injuries of class.”

Education-socialization starts when you’re young and feeds your natural aptitudes; you either get the foundation you need or operate at limited capacity, many times for life.  All honest work is worthwhile; however, most parents—no matter their background—do not want to see their children try to make a career out of seasonal low-paying jobs.

Our county has a large underclass suffering those hidden injuries, but we can offer the children a better future with an adequate library and resource center. Today, San Benito is a county with a big new jail and a tiny old library—there is something wrong with that picture.

No matter what path we choose we will meet the younger generations again. The key question is where; will they be incarcerated, living in a creek bed, lining up for public assistance, or will they be able to gain the advantages that good opportunities offer?

If we want a better tomorrow, we have to make that investment today and that all starts with the leadership.