Louisiana cuts state funds to libraries. Will your state be next?
(This is written by an American expat who is a librarian living in the European Union, where libraries are far better publicly funded.)
American Libraries under Attack!
American libraries are the last truly socialized good that we have in the United States wherein a homeless American is served on par with the mayor and city council aristocracy. The truth is you're about to lose this important public good which has intellectual freedom as its centerpiece. You deserve to know about it, but more than that we need your help. Therefore I invite you to give a careful and indeed close reading to this very important issue which deserves your support, as it refers to keeping an informed public, which has always been the cornerstone of the American democracy. Which in order to work requires voters to be informed and educated on the very important issues facing our democracy.
Thanks to the GOP, Ann Coulter and her Tea Party ilk which are on a tirade to defund any and all socialized institutions, which offer egalitarian equal access to all have decided to target your local libraries. As a librarian this is of heartfelt concern to me, because I understand very well how many books it will take to turn that special child in your life into a lifelong reader. I understand that you probably aren't going to have all of those books in your private collection. This fact will change that child's life, as well as the lives of all of their friends, both in your community and across America and that will change for the worse the future of America.
Louisiana state library funding has been eliminated
Citing budget concerns, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed a $25-billion budget that eliminates almost $900,000 in state funding for its libraries. In a statement, the governorâs chief budget aide, Paul Rainwater, said, âIn tight budget times, we prioritized funding for healthcare and education. Operations such as local libraries can be supported with local, not state dollars.â
Library Budget Cuts Threaten Community Services Across CountryThe library offers equal access to all. It is a truly public, truly socialized good. It doesn't matter if you're a homeless person or the mayor, when you walk in to the library and present your library card, you have access to all of the same services across the board, and without exception. This is very important because a lot of very smart people believe that your right to read as enshrined by the American Library Association's Freedom to Read statement is believed to come directly from the United States Constitution, which ensures freedom of speech. This means that you have the freedom to read and to listen to and to watch the free expression of your fellow Americans and citizens of the world, both contemporary and historical. Because the library in its essence is really the repository for everyone who has ever thought and written. If you lose access to that, if your children and members of your community lose access to that, it will diminish us all, because it constitutes a type of de facto economic censorship, wherein as library systems given budget shortfalls all across America, are being forced to move to so called pay for services plans. So if you are an economic have not and your children and your communities will become information have nots. This means in America we will have a less well informed electorate, in a clear posture where most people in America don't read. They have made themselves dependent of passive consumers of electronic media, where they get most information from sitcoms and fake news shows.
These days, the library's very existence is a question mark, and they face
some of the steepest budget cuts in history. According to a Harris/Reader's
Digest Poll from late 2010, nearly 40 percent of American mayors plan to
reduce hours, shed employees or make other cutbacks in the coming months,
while many county libraries have already eliminated branches entirely.
Some people feel with the internet they no longer need libraries. It's all available online, they think. They think that right until the time they can't find something and then they need help. So it is that they go to their local library only to find the door is closed. The good news is it's never too late. We can always reopen closed libraries but moreover we can keep your library from closing with your support. You see, the more information that you have access to, the more irreverent information you will have access to. That's not the type of information you need that's relevant to you and your community. You need professional collection development and maintenance that reflect your information needs and the information needs of your community. That's why you need a library. The amount of information in the world doubles every 8 years. That makes it harder for you to find pertinent information without professional help.
What happens to a less well informed America is that people become victims of economic censorship, which the powers that be love, because that will turn us all into 'right thinking' Americans, who've become intolerant. This is what happens to people particularly when they are growing up, when they are presented with one sided information they become intolerant. This gives rise to all of the isms, especially racism and sexism, and the intolerant hatred for anyone who looks or lives differently. If we want a tolerant society then we have to be prepared to pay the price for intellectual freedom. That means supporting our local libraries, because the cost of censorship is simply too high.
Budget cuts are affecting public libraries all over the country.As librarians we are trained to resist censorship in all of its guises, especially economic censorship. But we cannot do it on our own, we have to appeal to the public with some regularity. We depend on your support, to step up, stand up and speak out and make a difference for yourself, make a difference for the community. Make a difference for that special child in your life! Please support your local library today. Thank you.
Maryland: Summer reading is the latest budget-cutback victim
New Jersey: Public library board readies for municipal budget cuts
New York: Budget cuts forces Queens Library to shutter 14 branches, cut 300 workers and reduce hours
California: L.A. book lovers to protest city library budget cuts
California: Siskiyou County could close libraries
Illinois: Illinois Cooperatives Suffering Massive Service Cuts, Dozens of Lay-Offs
Responses in support of funding public libraries
Op-Ed from Los Angeles Times by Marilyn Johnson U.S. public libraries: We lose them at our peril
A response to the New York City public library funding crisis from author T.J. Stiles Rescuing the Stacks
Update: This postscript is in response to a reader who thought in a digital future libraries may become obsolete or at least in paper form. As for library info, well it seems the more information that is available in digital form, the more we need library staff to help us organize and access that information. If you don't believe that, try to Google something on the internet. You will find more information then you can use. This is precisely the problem. In library jargon, that's high retrieval with low pertinence. What we need is to get the opposite information that is highly pertinent in low retrieval data sets that are small enough to be manageable. To lose a library not only constitutes a danger for our society, it is dangerous for democracy to risk losing access to full intellectual freedom of everyone who has ever thought and everyone who has ever written.
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