One of the plethora of items on the chopping block on the current administration’s “America First” budget is funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). This federal funding, in combination with other federal arts and humanities funding, makes up far less than 1% of our nation’s budget — yet IMLS funding is able to support a wide range of services in public libraries throughout the country. Examples of these worthy services include summer reading programs, helping veterans transition to civilian life, resources for blind patrons, as well as job skills and computer coding courses. You can show your support for our public learning spaces by using the #SaveIMLS hashtag on social media to advocate for sparing federal funding for our nation’s libraries.
This week we donated to the Friends of the Castro Valley Library in our town. There are nonprofit, membership-based Friends of the Library chapters in many communities, large and small, throughout the country. You may already be involved with the chapter where you live. Friends of the Castro Valley Library raises funds for public library services and advocates at local, state, and national levels for public support of libraries. They keep an inventory of over 2,500 books and other media which they regularly turn over, donating additional books to deserving organizations throughout Alameda County.
Both of us have fond memories of visiting libraries as children, and we continue to do so today. Libraries are a foundation of learning, providing free and equal access to education. If knowledge is power, then libraries are a cornerstone of empowerment. As Henry Ward Beecher said, “A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.” Our local library is a hub of our town, where people come together to learn from one another, take part in community programs, spend time together as a family, and more. Libraries are community treasures!