BEL AIR, Md — The relative quiet of public libraries in Harford County---shattered by an appeal to those suffering in silence in their communities in the absence of federal paychecks.
"If you're having any kind of issues right now, whether it's paying your bills or paying your utilities or even basic necessities like food, healthcare, anything like that, stop by your local library,” said Harford County Public Library CEO Mary Hastler, “We will clean up your account for you, if you do have any overdue fines and fees and waive that for you---no questions asked, and then we'll help you connect those dots."
In addition to helping people cover the necessities, the libraries also offer families entertainment options ranging from books to e-books and DVDs to board games at no charge.
"We are hearing about it. We're hearing that paychecks aren't coming in right now, and there are folks that live paycheck to paycheck,” said Hastler, “Even if you're a great planner and you do have great resources, it's a scary time when Mom and Dad aren't going out to work. So we are hearing about it and we're hearing it through staff too."
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman has publicly called for an end to the stalemate in Washington.
"You don't shut down the government,” said Glassman, “It would be like me not getting my way in the county budget and somehow saying, 'We're going to shut down and I'm not going to plow roads next week, so I call for both parties to put an end to this shutdown game."
The county is also helping furloughed workers by pledging not to cut off their water for unpaid bills and to provide assistance with housing and credit counselling, but Glassman says it's only a matter of time until the shutdown impacts everyone.
"Sooner or later, you're not going to get through a TSA line,” said Glassman, “Sooner or later, folks are not going to get their food stamps or rental assistance, so it's just going to snowball as we move through winter."