Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In Defence of Libraries

As a news junkie in this political environment, I keep both blogging eyes open to anything that crosses my path which threatens something precious to me. With the teabaggers in office, this happens more than I care for, and I've signed endless arrays of petitions to save various services related to disability, public broadcasting, reproductive rights, and other issues. This time though, I'm going to talk about one which is less headline-worthy, but I think is just as fundamentally important, and deserves to be protected from onslaughts of misguided right-wing stupidity.

Amendment #35 would eliminate all IMLS funding specifically for libraries, and leave those that depend on library resources and services high and dry. Libraries not only breathe life into the souls of bibliophiles of all ages, they are a godsend for the poor who cannot afford their own computers or internet access, and rely on the public library in their community to ensure that they can access the internet for job hunting, government searches, and using the web to keep in contact with family, friends and loved ones. When I was internet-devoid for a while, my library proved an invaluable resource, especially during a period when I was filing for SSI benefits and needed to check my student email and use Blackboard. And blog for you dear readers of course.
This goes beyond shafting the poor though. I've come to expect that from the GOP. There's something considerably more sinister about wanting to dis-empower libraries. It is an attack on knowledge and love of learning (philio-sophos, do those words look familiar?) itself. It is an almost guaranteed way of ensuring a deepening poverty of the mind for the youth of America. When I was a child, books were my greatest friend. In a childhood characterized by isolation from my peers, I found solace in books, and when I would scroll down aisles glancing at the author's names on the spines, I dreamed of one day having my own name on a spine in the library.
So from an early age, books were my gateway to a love of writing and illustrating my own books (My greatest childhood memory is winning a prize at my school for a book I illustrated and wrote about a group of space girls travelling to all the different planets in the solar system. Back then, that included Pluto!) and offered me a comforting activity which instilled the germs from which curiosity, creativity and critical thinking emerged. Without those three C's, life would be considerably more colourless, cheerless, and confined to much greater limits.
I'm sure hoping that that's not what those who wish to cut the life out of libraries have in mind with this Amendment. But it is an inevitable side effect which will do more harm to the collective American childhood than any pennies saved ever could justify.
Protect our libraries and the bibliophiles to come who will need them.

1 comment:

  1. Libraries are GREAT! My librarian taught me to drive.