I won't often talk politics in public, mainly because I don't consider my knowledge broad, nor complete enough to hold a valid opinion on many issues without making a fool of myself. But with the Trump administration's recent budget proposal, I find myself not only moderately qualified to speak to this situation, but compelled to, out of dedication to the work that is my passion, and my mission.
The Trump administration has proposed completely cutting out funding for the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), without which, communities with libraries like my own will suffer.
Federal monies buy many of our books, and most of our computers. On any given day, I can guarantee that you can find at least one person job searching from our computers, and at least one person working on finishing up their college education, not to mention the hordes of kids who can access free preschool curriculum through ABC Mouse. Those people depend on us because they don't have a computer of their own, or they don't have access to affordable internet. (Which is an issue for another day) Cut the IMLS, and you take away those avenues for growth and self betterment. Here's a thought for you, Mr. President - The more access people have to libraries, the sooner they can get jobs. When they get jobs, the sooner they'll be able to to be independent of government aid.
But, that's not all! (oh, did you think I was done? I'm only just warming up. Get comfortable y'all.) The National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) is also on the chopping block. Do you know what they fund? Let's just get local here. Humanities Tennessee -- the organizer and sponsor of Nashville's weekend of beauty, the Southern Festival of Books (SFB). Okay, Sarah, you say, we know you love books, but the SFB isn't a necessity to Tennesseans in the same way libraries with computers are. How is this important?
I'm so glad you asked.
You see the word "Humanities"? yeah? okay, take off the "-ities" part of the word. What do you have left? Human. To quote my favorite author:
"Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving." - Madeliene L'Englewhat's that now? Stories make us more human? Reading can build our levels of empathy for others? You mean the humanities might aid in making us a nation of tolerable, decent human beings?
(but you wouldn't know, Mr. President. You don't read books.)
When the NEH was established in 1965, some of the reasons included in the congressional act include the importance of understanding our past, present and future, and cultivating wise free thinkers, not bots and followers. (My interpretation. You can read it yourself) Cut the NEH and we run the risk of becoming a nation of muggles. Sheeple. Lemmings. PEOPLE WHO DON'T THINK FOR THEMSELVES. moving on.
Speaking of... do you know who else funds Humanities Tennessee? the National Endowment for the Arts who is, (yep, you guessed it) also facing its possible demise. The SFB isn't the ONLY Tennessee establishment that gets it's funding from the NEA. Among others, the Arts Build Communities grant, administered by the Tennessee Arts Commission has funded many a Tennessee librarian's dream program with awesome storytellers and performers that they wouldn't be able to afford with a small city or county budget. Take it from someone who puts on her prettiest smile and dies from social anxiety every April while fundraising for summer reading programs, most of us DO NOT have local funds allocated to our programs (Don't ask me WHY, I don't understand it). Without grants like those the NEA makes possible, yearly institutions like the Summer Reading Program that nearly EVERY library in the nation holds in one way, shape or form, would be sparse and dying on the vine. Those summer programs are backbone of the summer slide prevention effort for low income families. A child's literacy by third grade affects their likelihood for high-school graduation and graduation affects likelihood for incarceration and so on an so forth. In a round about way, Cutting the NEA could negatively affect the future of our kids. And this problem is only gonna repeat itself.
So, now that the rant is out, what can you do?
Wise up.Educate yourself on this issue. Read through all the links I've included here. There are alot, I know, but they will allow your to form your own opinions on the matter. I don't want you to take my word for it. That would be counter to my own arguments here!
Speak up. Speak out. Sign petitions like this one at Whitehouse.gov and this one at Every Library. Contact your representatives and tell them how important it is that libraries have this funding source. Figure out who that is for your area here.
Or maybe you think that the government SHOULD cut that area of the budget, but you still agree with my thoughts here... That's a possibility! In that case... see how you can take the burden off the federal government and help yourself! Donate to your local library. Join a Friends of the Library group to see your library in action from a different perspective.
Don't bury your head back under the pillow and fall back asleep. Keep your eyes open. Pay attention to what's happening in current events. Look ahead to the future, see if you like where its headed and then do something about it!
Library Girl out.