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.)
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 governor’Â€™s chief budget aide, Paul Rainwater, said, In tight budget times, we prioritized funding for healthcare and education. Operations such as local libraries can be supported with local, not state dollars.
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.
The 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.
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 reverent 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.
(Image source: http://www.ala.org/research/pl… )
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. 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.
PS: Here’s another diary that I wrote that also deserves your attention.