Photograph by ellenm1 of an image by Edward Curtis, “The Blanket Weaver – Navaho”
Dear Mr. President,
I loved that Ivanka tweeted her support for libraries and librarians on April 13,
“This #NationalLibraryWeek, we honor our libraries and librarians for opening our eyes to the world of knowledge, learning and reading!”
As a school librarian/media specialist for many years, this brought joy to my heart. I love it when people recognize the value and importance of libraries and skilled librarians in our world. They provide free resources to everyone. They provide access to employment resources and training, access to technologies, and support for literacy and learning. They support children learning to read, the most important skill for a successful life. Libraries are – or should be – the center of our democracy. A free society needs information from multiple sources, from multiple viewpoints.
However, your America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again cuts all federal funding to the Institute of Museum and Library Services. How can this happen? You complain about all the “fake” news that’s out there. Librarians help. They teach students to look at sources of information and evaluate them. Librarians teach students to use multiple sources to fact-check information. They teach students to be wise and wary consumers of information. They are leaders in the information field. Yet, many of those positions are being cut due to lack of funding.
Check out your local public library. Talk with a librarian. You will find many great resources there. And while you’re at it, take a stroll through the Library of Congress, an incredible, national treasure.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the other part of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Museums also play an extremely important role in preserving our national heritage. You live in a city (during the week anyway) that has an abundance of wonderful museums. So do I. My local art museum is having a significant exhibit of the works of Edward Curtis, who photographed more than 80 Native American tribes. Our libraries are collaborating and supporting this exhibit by having a regional book discussion of Timothy Eagan’s book about Curtis, Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher. And we don’t even have to go to Washington, D.C. to be a part of this. Events like this happen all across our nation in big cities and small, thanks to funding from local, state, and federal sources.
And while I’m at it, how can you propose to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities? Look at the above example, right here in my community. This is art, this is humanity at its finest, working together, sharing resources, involving communities in activities that build community and understanding and appreciation.
And then there is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Have you ever watched a Ken Burns’ documentary? He is making a new series on the Vietnam War. You grew up with that war, perhaps had friends that died in that war. Me, too. Ken Burns’ work has a place and a following on PBS, and it is too important to let that go. Ken Burns is our national storyteller. PBS is an American institution that needs financial support. Have you watched The Civil War or The Statue of Liberty? Have you watched his National Parks series, to learn about the exquisite legacy of people like John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt, who sought to preserve natural beauty?
I prefer to preserve beauty over more military spending.
All these organizations help us to be better human beings. We all need help with that.