books & desk

Pages from reference works that I copied

and books I borrowed from Public Libraries.

An email message came to my inbox today with an alert: Public library funding was under attack. There were plans to reduce or eliminate federal funds for public libraries, the message said. My reaction was disbelief, then anger when I learned after some googling around that indeed that was in the budget proposal for fiscal year 2019. “The Trump administration has once again proposed the permanent elimination of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, as well as the elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (and with it virtually all federal library funding),” Publishers Weekly reported.

For FY2018, Library organizations, policymakers, and advocacy groups fought and succeeded in preserving federal funds for public libraries, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and more than a dozen other educational programs and grants. Advocates are doing the same thing regarding FY2019—that is why I received the email, I presume.

Trump wants these cuts, as well as reduced funds for other domestic programs, so that he can increase spending for the military and obtain billions of dollars for a wall on the Mexico-U.S. border. What good are a huge military and gigantic wall if we have an uneducated citizenry? Education is a major reason public libraries are needed in a community. Trump claims that libraries are not a federal responsibility and that libraries would stay open regardless of federal support. NOT TRUE! Libraries would have to cut staff, hours, book purchases, etc, eventually closing down.

Personally, I could not have succeeded as a nonfiction author without repeatedly visiting a library for research. Books by experts were and still are important references. So are works such as encyclopedia that cannot be checked out. In the past, I have copied pages and pages of references to learn more about a particular topic—information that helped me write a book. Today, I can find those needed materials online or download some books through the local library’s electronic resources.

Beyond my personal need for library resources, local libraries often provide services such as computer classes, internet access, book clubs for kids, meeting rooms for local groups, language classes, plus audio books, e-books, magazines, DVDs, and CDs that can be checked out. And it’s all free, unless what you borrow is overdue—you will charged a fine. Usually it’s a small price to pay for the privilege of keeping a public library functioning in a community. Maybe Trump should walk through the door of a public library—there are at least two dozen in D.C.—and educate himself. But that’s probably asking too much from a guy who often says he doesn’t like to read–unless it’s something good about himself.



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