When I moved to Santa Monica 19 years ago, one of my very first acts, before the moving truck had even arrived, was to sign up for my library card. That little piece of plastic was then, and is now, my gateway to the world, an endless cornucopia of information and pleasure.

Montana was “my” branch. I knew all the librarians, wonderful people, kind, helpful, efficient. When they disappeared overnight, without my even having a chance to say “goodbye” or to tell them how much I appreciated them, I was devastated. I live within walking distance of the Montana branch; seeing it shuttered and lifeless is beyond sad.

When my grandchildren were small, their lengthy visits always included multiple trips to pick out books and attend programs. I remember so well my small granddaughter’s utter delight in the chance to read to a dog…..she’s 20 years old now, and still cherishes the memory. (Her brother, a very literal-minded person, was incredulous when I suggested participating in the program. “Grandma”, he said, patiently, “the dog doesn’t understand”.)

When my stepdaughter visits from back east with her kids, she’s barely off the plane before she and I grab backpacks and head to the library for literary provisions for the days ahead. A visit without books is unimaginable.

The shockingly diminished numbers of the library staff have done a fabulous job with curbside pickup. I had been going to Main for that – Montana is only open curbside 2 days a week. The librarians remain patient, kind. friendly, helpful. It is so much appreciated.

I am thrilled that I can now actually enter what feels almost like the sacred space of the Main library, though only on the first floor. A lack of staff keeps inaccessible the second floor, which houses all the non-fiction. How sad!

All of this is truly shocking. I mean that quite literally. How could the City of Santa Monica truncate its’ library system? Libraries are now, and have been for centuries, the very heart of civilization. Santa Monica, our beautiful city by the sea, will remain forever diminished if our libraries are sacrificed. I am imploring the City Council to reconsider the draconian budget cuts. Our kids need our libraries, students need our libraries, families need out libraries, old ladies like me need our libraries.

Laurie Brenner is a Santa Monica resident. save.sm.library@gmail.com or @SaveSMLibrary1