As ridiculous as some might find that question, I’ll say that I’m surprised that during National Library Card Signup month, no one has asked it. Not the ALA, not even the PLA, nor any state library association. This isn’t some far fetched request of documentation that has been pressed upon the President; this is a look for support from the top regarding a necessary public institution. And, quite frankly, if there was ever a time when the public library could use a boost from a charismatic individual, this would be the time. Unless you’ve been living under a proverbial rock in the library world, states have been making dramatic cuts in their state budgets that are affecting library services. This is not the time to dither or dilly-dally on the sidelines, but to assert ourselves in the public arena.
This is the moment when public libraries are needed more than ever. We’ve all read about how usage is up, how we help people with job searches, and how people turning to the public library to help them in the time of the recession. We know our own value, but do the people who represent us do? There is no time like the present to reach out to our representatives and ask them, “Where is your library card?” We need to know where they stand on issues of library funding.
Here’s some quick links to politicians and their contact boxes.
(If you want to use this your own blog, here’s the link to my Google Document with the html code.)
Honestly, in looking at the shape of political debate of the last couple of months (in particular, with healthcare), there is a clear need for facts and information. Libarians can help people learn about the healthcare debate from non-partisan sites like FactCheck.org & PolitiFact OR help people do their own detective work about the healthcare system with online databases and personal periodical holdings. They can get all of the facts and statistics for themselves and make their own informed decision based decision on the issue without the spin or hype of the commentators. Now is the time to be informed about decisions that have implications for years and decades to come.
(Or, to paraphrase something from the realm of politics…)
In honor of the American librarian, quit making up stuff and look it up. You can do it at your local library. We would be more than happy to help.