I was saddened to hear that Portland Public Library wants to close three branches, leaving Burbank, Peaks and the main branch open and increasing the hours of operation at the main branch (“Councilors: Cut budget if library closes branches,” April 13).

Targeted libraries are in the Portland neighborhoods with high populations of low-income families.

One rationale for the closures was patronage. While Burbank is the “fifth-busiest” library in the state, are the other branches complaining that they don’t have enough patrons?

Speaking for the Riverton Branch, whenever I visit that branch there is never a shortage of patrons. And according to the newspaper, the Munjoy Hill Branch does a brisker business than Riverton.

Perhaps Burbank’s numbers are higher because its hours are longer and it’s a centralized branch. When the other branches are closed, people tend to go to Burbank.

But that isn’t possible for many of Portland’s children. I know for a fact that many of these children’s parents work two or three entry-level jobs to provide a better life for their families.

They can’t just jump in the car and drive their kids to the library; they haven’t the luxury of time or, often, a second vehicle.

That being said, if Burbank’s hours were reduced, the Burbank patrons are far more likely to visit other branches.

With “failing schools” in Portland (“Riverton anxious to elevate its scores,” March 31), is it in our best interest to close the library serving that “failing” population?

When I moved into my neighborhood, big draws were neighborhood diversity, swimming at the school and the branch library. The pool isn’t used by the school any longer, and now the library is slated to close, too.

Where is the incentive to move into my neighborhood? How do we stop the mass exodus?

Taking away what is positive surely isn’t the answer.

Caroline Wagner

Portland

Congratulations to the board of trustees and director of the Portland Public Library on the reopening of the main branch. It is a handsome space; Portland deserves these downtown gems.

Portland also deserves all of its branches. The recommendation to close Munjoy, Reiche and Riverton is a collective slap in the face to residents of these neighborhoods.

Many residents do not have cars. Families depend on these branches for safe places after school. Newcomers, still learning all the wonders that a library has to offer, will enter a nearby space, while a downtown facility is an insurmountable obstacle.

Fifty years later, I still relish the delight with which I demonstrated that I could read, and the bookmobile’s librarian issued me my own card. We patronized this neighborhood service weekly, a small, intimate, friendly place. As much as my parents valued literacy, a trip to downtown Pittsburgh’s main branch just wasn’t possible.

This neighborhood base would be the foundation for my early career in libraries and a lifelong love of books and libraries. Will emerging readers in Portland’s poorer neighborhoods experience this same joy if the branches are closed?

I support the suggestion of Councilors David Marshall and John Anton that the city cut the library’s allocation by $160,000, the cost of running the Munjoy, Reiche and Riverton branches. I was stunned by the threat quickly leveled that if this is done, then all branches of the library would be closed.

I question whether the library’s development strategy is the best it could be, given the number of people who were never asked to support the recent campaign.

I urge the library board to reconsider its prejudice toward centralization. A new monument on Monument Square is fine, but what about all of Portland’s readers? Is restoring Monday service downtown so important that the board is willing to leave many readers out in the cold?

Elizabeth Miller

Portland

Only cure for jaywalking is for people to obey the law

In response to the story on April 13 about Jay York’s attempt at diverting pedestrians from crossing Franklin Arterial by capturing them in the act (“Jaywalking flap leads to teens’ arrest”):

As a resident of Oxford Street and neighbor to Mr. York, I agree that he is a fine photographer. His efforts to shift the pedestrian traffic flow, however, remain a mystery to me.

As the newly appointed co-chair of the Portland Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, I am actively involved in preventing this kind of incident. I invite Mr. York to join us in Room 209 at Portland City Hall every second Monday of each month to be part of a common solution.

Jaywalking is at epidemic levels on the peninsula. There is a common solution to this problem, and it’s available to all citizens: Obey the law!

Each time I am at an intersection, I press the pedestrian signal and take a few deep breaths. doing this, not only do I become calmer, I become more courteous to people in general and, therefore, feel good.

The people have voted with their feet when it comes to shortcuts, etc., and Mr. York’s concern for their safety is to be commended.

Lone activism, however, prevents us from being aware that the intersection in question was discussed in a public forum known as the East Bayside AIA-Sustainable Design Assessment Team presentation and panel discussion recently.

Reading that Mr. York is so passionate about this issue that he is considering protecting himself by carrying a concealed weapon is sad.

Please always be careful when crossing the street and look both ways before stepping off the curb is what I was always taught. Worth repeating, yes?

Michel Joncas

Portland

Columnist missed the point in attempt to bash liberals

In a column published April 10 (“Mixing up monsters and victims”), Jonah Goldberg takes the film “How to Train Your Dragon” to task for pushing an alleged liberal Hollywood view of war (in particular, the “War on Terror”): that there is no evil; that enemies are not bad but merely misunderstood; that monsters don’t really exist.

I am not convinced he actually saw the movie; the climax is a battle against a very terrible monster with no redeeming qualities.

If the film has any lesson about war, it is that you must understand your enemy; that to fight a dangerous foe requires allies; to mark potential allies as enemies needlessly can be fatal.

Such lessons created the strategy in the Anbar province of Iraq that turned the tide in our favor: We put Sunni insurgents on the U.S. payroll and encouraged them to fight a mutual foe, al-Qaida in Iraq. We understood an enemy, we made allies out of them and we defeated terrorists with their help.

Perhaps Goldberg understands the war on terror no better than the film he brandishes as a straw man.

Jason Thaxter

Cumberland

Health care law going to be big help to many

In reading Michelle Singletary’s column in the March 28 Telegram (“Calculating post-reform scenarios”), I am further convinced that the new health care policy is the right direction for our country to go in.

Former Gov. Angus King recently spoke to an audience of teachers and education support staff (of which I was one), and related that our young people to some extent are a culture who feel entitled.

However, I also feel that there are others besides our young people who also feel the same way, and feel that those who can’t afford health care are not entitled to it.

My thought, although it can’t be captured in 300 words, is that big business also is entitled, although they can’t be convinced of that. Big business is entitled to pay its retail clerks paltry hourly wages while it scoops up profits and tax deductions up the ying-yang.

Some entities talk about immigration problems while they run their enterprises with low-paid undocumented workers picking grapes, cutting broccoli, mowing lawns in the summer and the like.

According to Singletary’s column, I’ll be getting a deduction for the health insurance premium I pay, which currently runs more than 20 percent of my household income.

If Congress wants to save me some money because big business might have to pitch in a tiny percent more, I say, bring it on. Rush Limbaugh doesn’t scare me. That fact that he has such a huge following terrifies me.

Tom Ashby

Buxton

In public, toplessness not appropriate for anyone

One comment in the original article about women going topless in downtown Portland caught my eye but hasn’t been addressed.

The gist of it was, if men can go topless, why not women? My question is, why are men going topless in a downtown business area?

In most societies, what we wear, or not, is a form of communication to others. It seems that we in the United States are more inclined just to communicate “I can do what I want” and ignore the other messages we send.

What we choose to wear expresses what we value or think is important and communicates respect — or not. If you show up to my formal wedding wearing beach attire, the message I receive is that my feelings and the importance of my wedding are not valued by you.

I personally would prefer not to see men or women’s uncovered torsos or bikini tops in downtown areas or running (and dripping sweat) down public streets. I believe such informality belongs at the beach, at the pool or in your own home.

Shopping and doing business are supposed to be respectful, honorable and honest exchanges. In our communities, we need to live in mutual harmony and respect.

Why is it so hard to make an effort not to offend others, especially when it is of little to no discomfort to you? Whether it is manner of dress, loud voices, cursing, nursing an infant or whatever, just because you have a “right” doesn’t mean you have to exercise it at the discomfort of others.

No shirts, no service. If no respect is given, none may be received.

Lynda Hartzell

Brunswick