The Library Girl Speaks Out | Budget Cuts

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'Engle 
what'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!

Rise up. 

Speak up. Speak out. Sign petitions like this one at 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.

Eyes. Up. 

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. 

UPDATE: Chuck Sherrill, the Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist, gathered together data that shows what exactly cutting the IMLS means. Another lovely library advocate and LIS student then made this great infographic to visualize that data. check it out!

From the Archives | Dear Mr. Wilding

Facebook's On This Day reminded me of this today... 
Six years ago, I was a fledgling library-girl. I was 19, working part time as a page at South Cheatham Public Library, the library that will always have my heart. There was one patron who was a favorite of all the staff there. He was invested in my education, and particularly rooting for me to get to library school someday. Dear Mr. Wilding, If you could see me now.

Dear Mr. Wilding,
It seems like not that long ago that I was signing a get well soon card from all of us library ladies for you.
It seems that they neglected to tell me that you weren't getting much better.
If I had known, I would have written this all to you sooner, while you could still receive it.
I wanted to tell you, that I was accepted at Bryan.
I couldn't wait to have you back at the library again, so I could tell you.
I knew that you'd be proud of me.

I remember the first time I met you, I wasn't even working at the library yet.
You were there telling stories, when I returned some books for my mom.
It was the middle of the day, and you asked me why I wasn't in school.
I told you that I was in college... and for some reason, that was hard for you to believe.

I remember all the stories you've told me.
about working in the labs with mosquitoes,
and sailing with your kids,
about caving exploring...
Some day, I'll tell my children about you.
I'll tell them those stories.

You were my favorite Mr. Wilding.
Curmudgeonly though you were,
I was always very pleased when you,
my favorite of the Three Interesting Men,
came in for a book.
Because, even though you may have given the other ladies a hard time when it came to finding a book,
I know that you were really a softy at heart.
You may make a face at that statement, (and boy could you make some beautiful faces)
but I know this for a fact.
'cause you were genuinely concerned when I wrecked my car,
and made sure that I was getting a good one when I replaced it.

in fact,
the last time I saw you,
you told me to get home and take care of my cold.
then preceded to tell me that if my car continued to make that clacking noise there might  be something wrong with the...timing belt was it?
I'm gonna miss you Mr. Wilding.
Thanks for making my life so interesting.

Sarah the library girl