Il Trumpe’s War On Libraries

No idea what will happen in 2018, but, unsurprisingly, the Republican administration wants to eliminate all federal funding for libraries (boldface mine):

If you say “IMLS” to most folks, even to those familiar with Uncle Sam’s endless stream of abbreviations and acronyms, you’ll get a blank stare.

You can spell out the Institute of Museum and Library Services, but the recognition won’t be much better.

Yet this small federal agency has extensive reach across the country, supporting educational and cultural activities for people who will never know how those experiences are funded…

If President Trump gets his way, the institute, along with 18 other agencies, will be eliminated. It finances programs at 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums.

When Julie Todaro, president of the American Library Association, got the news, she was “shocked and devastated.” The organization is mobilizing congressional opposition to the budget plan she called “counterproductive and short-sighted.”

Eliminating the agency would not save much money, just $230 million dollars — Sam’s pocket change compared with Trump’s plan to slash $54 billion from domestic discretionary spending. Like staffers at the other agencies on death row, the institute’s 73 employees would face not only unemployment but also the loss of a devoted mission….

In his budget message, Trump said he aims to create “a Government that puts the needs of its own people first.” The people apparently don’t need library and museum services enough to meet his requirements.

Here are some of the things IMLS does:

David Smolen, Conway, N.H., public-library director: “There are a number of ways elimination of IMLS and LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act grants) would damage our libraries.” He cited talking books for the blind, downloadable books, research databases and staff positions subject to layoffs.

Laura Pitts, Scottsboro, Ala., public-library director: “In the past four years we have increased our summer participation from 150 children to over 500, and the number continues to grow, all because we have had the funds available to us through the LSTA and IMLS to develop new projects, new learning and new literacy initiatives for families to take part in.”

Omar Poler, American Indian Library Association president: “Since most American Indian communities have little to no tax base, tribal libraries are especially sensitive to reductions in IMLS funding. The loss of IMLS and its Native American Library Services Program will mean the loss of countless opportunities for lifelong learning. In a very real way, this budget is an attack on Indian Country’s right to know.”

Greg Lucas, California state librarian: “For public libraries, federal funds pay for literacy efforts, lunches for poor kids during the summer. . . . promote adult and early-childhood literacy, provide mental-health training for librarians, offer summer reading programs for kids and adults,” among a list of other programs.

Karen Bosch Cobb, project adviser, Pacific Library Partnership in San Mateo, Calif.: “Since its inception in 2012, Veterans Connect @ the Library has served well over 27,000 veterans or family members at 50 public library sites in California. Volunteers and staff provide one-on-one extended research about available benefits, thus serving as an entry point into the complex arena of services for veterans and family members. . . . The elimination of IMLS will mean that the expansion and maintenance of this program is no longer possible.”

Christine Anagnos, executive director of the Association of Art Museum Directors: “Seattle’s Frye Museum… Here:Now program gives adults living with dementia and their care partners a creative way to connect through artmaking classes as part of the museum’s Creative Aging Programs…IMLS plays a critical role in enhancing the quality of life in communities across the nation.”

Denise Keller, Pinal County librarian, Florence, Ariz.: “In 2013, we received a grant for $36,880 to help us start an eBook collection. The expenses associated with the purchase of the platform, setup and a starting collection was beyond what our local budgets could bear. Now we have a growing collection, thanks to the seed money from IMLS.”

But don’t worry, Ivanka will save us!

When daughter Ivanka Trump tweeted to promote National Library Week last week, Todaro responded on Twitter with “libraries do great work with federal funds for states @realdonaldtrump wants to wipe out… #saveIMLS


To make the point again, this is what happens when you create artificial and needless austerity: those who want to really make ‘America great’ can’t, and those who just use that to gull the rubes don’t have to justify their actions.

Update: At least for fiscal 2017, the funding has been kept!

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4 Responses to Il Trumpe’s War On Libraries

  1. Net Denizen says:

    Ooh, now link to the video of Erdogan’s supporters trashing bookstores. Because obviously the enemy of the state is books….

  2. sglover says:

    Every community library I’ve visited is busy. Whether they’re in small midwestern towns or east coast cities and suburbs, they’re hopping. Outside of churches, libraries might be the only real community nuclei we’ve got left. It’s good to know that at least for 2017 the IMLS won’t fall to this idiotic false economy, but with things as they are, now, I wouldn’t be surprised if this gels into another lunatic Republican crusade.

    The “related links” section took me to a 2010 post about Nicholas Negroponte’s confident prediction that books would be “dead” in another few years. Negroponte’s “One Laptop Per Child” gadget was going to be the gravedigger. Seven years later, electronic readers of all kinds are more ubiquitous and cheaper than anything Negroponte proposed, but people still read books.

  3. UKJim says:

    Well, if you elect someone who doesn’t (or can’t) read, it seems unsurprising that they’d hardly think libraries are important!

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