Last month, Ivanka Trump praised libraries for their vital role in “opening our eyes to a world of knowledge, learning and reading.” Yet, ironically enough, her father plans to cut funding for 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums across the nation. Despite having the power to influence a Syrian missile strike, apparently preserving “knowledge, learning and reading” is too much to ask for.
In President Trump’s “skinny” budget proposal for 2018, he plans to limit funding for 19 federal agencies, one of which is the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Contributing about $214 million dollars to libraries and museums in the U.S., IMLS is the backbone of maintaining public opportunities like early learning initiatives, summer reading programs and technology training.
Currently, the funds provided to IMLS account for less than .0006 percent of the total federal budget. Eliminating this agency will do little to save the government money; however, it will impact communities significantly.
Libraries provide more than just paperbacks and textbooks; it’s a community’s hub–a place for the public to access materials for personal development and success in our technology driven society. With 65% of libraries as the only provider of free internet access in their communities, the reality of this budget cut means a shortage in books for the blind, job opportunities, lunch for low-income students over summer and more.
Funding for IMLS has been decreasing gradually over the years, causing a decline in visitation. The rise of technology isn’t the reason why fewer Americans are going to local libraries but rather the shortage of expenses has led to a shortage of programs and services that can be provided.
Instead of creating “a government that puts the needs of its own people first” like he promised, President Trump is removing the resources that helps communities grow for the sake of investing in the military, homeland security and veterans. While this seems helpful in theory, do we really need to endanger thousands of these public spaces when we already have the world’s most powerful military?
Since the start of his term, the list of necessities that the public needs to fight for has been getting longer. Unfortunately, libraries have been added. To save these public spaces from shutting down, share this information with friends and family or on social media with the #SaveIMLS. Additionally, the American Library Association has provided talking points that may be used to call and email members of Congress.
With the potential to help communities thrive, it’s crucial that libraries exist for the public’s benefit. For many, these institutions are the only resources available that provide learning opportunities and other services. If libraries suffer, so does our own community.
Do you think libraries are important?