The news that Miami-Dade Mayor was axing funding for a no-kill program at county animal shelters got worse on Monday when he announced that nearly two dozen local library branches would also be shuttered to avoid a tax increase.

The deep cuts, if passed, mean closing 22 libraries and laying off 251 library employees.

But that's no big deal, Gimenez conveyed in an interview with Local 10 Wednesday. "People have said that the age of the library is probably ending," he said.

So where are Miamians to get their books?

Certainly not at either chain or independent bookstores -- both of which are very rare already in Miami.

Libraries also serve as free Internet centers, a very important service considering Gov. Rick Scott recently required that all Florida unemployment recipients apply online.

Not to mention the fact that Miami's unemployed (that rate hovering just under 10 percent) just might need that free Internet to find a new job online.

And historically, public libraries have always been more than just about books and media: They serve as community centers and safe spots for children.

"A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft and a festival," wrote columnist Caitlin Moran. "They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination."

A librarian in San Francisco recently argued the opposite of Gimenez, that libraries are in fact more relevant than ever:

Perhaps no other place captures the values of freedom of expression and democracy like this venerable institution. Libraries represent what we should never take for granted: the freedom to read, the freedom to choose and the freedom to share our ideas.

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