This week’s news of U.S. Congressman Scott Garrett’s (R-NJ-5) amendment to the FY2011 Continuing Resolution to zero out the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) served as a grave reminder that some members of Congress continue to overlook the value of the libraries in their districts.
Garrett’s action confirmed that there is a true disconnection between some of our political leaders and those they were elected to serve.
Once again, as library advocates, we must intensify our efforts to communicate the value of libraries — even when it seems like our words are falling on deaf ears.
We do this for the public that libraries serve — the millions of Americans who need their libraries for all the reasons we proclaim time after time. No-fee access to the Internet. Online job searching. Digital literacy skills. Access to e-government services. Small business development. Civic engagement. The list we all know by heart goes on from there.
Yes, it is disheartening that some in Congress want to take resources away from an institution that gives individuals the tools to educate and empower themselves — an institution that represents everything that makes our country great.
However, I believe Rep. Garrett’s short-sighted, legislative misstep could be our opportunity.
Fighting Rep. Garrett ‘s amendment will give us a platform to publically call out the members of Congress who still don’t get it.
Keep up the fight — your community is counting on you!
Executive Director, ALA Washington Office