If any one person could use a trip to the library, that person would be President Dunderhead. Of course. (Psst, Donald. There are entire sections dedicated to historical perspective on the Civil War.)
But enough about him. I’m focusing on a bit of good news today.
There’s not much our Congress has done right lately. But in the face of a budget proposal that eliminates the Institute for Museum and Library Services, Congress — for now – did something right. They ignored a ridiculous gesture and instead, increased the Institute’s annual funding, ever so slightly, from $230 million to $231 million.
You may have never heard of the IMLS, but if you have ever stepped foot inside your local library, chances are their funding made a difference in your visit. In fact, of the $230 million in their most recent fiscal year, more than $214 million was allocated to libraries across the country in grant dollars. It’s money that pays for programming and infrastructure that serves to give everyone a leg up and access to the same opportunities available to the more fortunate every day. Classes, broadband and job training, just to name a few.
And just two weeks ago, the IMLS announced a round of grants, $9.7 million worth, thanks to the National Leadership Grants for Libraries Program and… wait for it … The Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program.
These are programs President Dunderhead should really pay attention to, for they are the kind of things that serve to advance that “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality the Republican Party adores. Thanks to this funding:
- Up to 30 rural communities in Nebraska will gain access to innovation labs in their local libraries that will support the ability to bring creative ideas to fruition. (This supports the critical thinking, job skills, and job creation often championed by politicians during campaing season.)
- The University of North Carolina will conduct a research project enabling libraries to help people with autism spectrum disorders and their families to become their own self-advocates. (As a parent of an on-the-spectrum child, I can’t even begin to tell you how much resources like these are needed.)
- The Chicago Public Library and the Museum of Science and Industry will be able to help librarians develop skills to support localized STEM learning experiences aimed toward children. (Don’t even get me started on the lack of access to STEM opportunities in city schools with little funding.)
Listen, my love for libraries is no secret. But I think that news like this often gets lost in the dumpster fire that is our current political state. And people need to know that good things like this do happen. And need to continue to happen. Funding today does not mean there will be funding tomorrow. You can make your voice heard by contacting your Senator here or House representative here. Tell them how much you love your library. How you like free books. You like to learn. You like a safe place for kids to congregate. You like that kids and senior citizens can share the same space. You like the book clubs and travel programs and computer lessons and tax help and internet access and art on display and author visits and community meeting room access and DVDs and music programming. All of it.
I love you, library. And I will return my overdue book really soon. I promise.
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