“History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” – Mark Twain
What’s happening right now in cities, towns, and state capitals around America, which can be described as “astroturf” campaigns of outrage over books and ideas by often uninformed people, have put authors, libraries, librarians, parents, and children on the front lines of a proxy culture war.
Here at Carl Bloom Associates, we spend a great deal of time not only helping libraries raise awareness and money for their mission (directly tied to First Amendment rights of free speech), but our passion for the support of public libraries extends to the founding of the International Public Library Fundraising Conference, and the creation of #LibraryGivingDay with free toolkits for libraries to deploy each spring, produced pro bono as part of our company’s efforts to give back.
As reported on NPR on June 9th, the Idaho House of Representatives voted on a bill that struck $3.5 million from the State Commission for Libraries budget after a contentious floor debate that featured efforts to ban books that politicians say pollute children’s minds, with some calling for librarians to be imprisoned for a year or fined for distributing books they deem to be harmful to children.
According to a March 30 article in the Longview News-Journal:
“The budget that finally passed late Friday night for the library commission cuts its overall funding by 10.5%, removing $307,000 in state general funds for digital and e-book collections the commission was making available to Idaho K-12 schools, and $3.5 million in federal funds that were to help set up internet links for telehealth in rural Idaho communities through libraries.”
While not addressing their (discredited) concerns, the slashes to the budget will directly affect the well-being of Idaho citizens while sending a shot across the bow at libraries.
Idaho State Senate Republicans then announced they’d work with House GOP leaders to form the House Working Group for Protecting Idaho Children from Material Harmful to Minors in Libraries.
We’ve seen this before.
History is rife with examples of movements designed to curtail learning, limit educational opportunities, and call out some imagined moral crisis buried in books. At CBA, we do not tolerate the demonizing of libraries and librarians, and decry efforts to defund libraries. The Founding Fathers revered the power of knowledge, and it was during that Age of Enlightenment that they formed the concept for a republic that eschewed government censorship, no matter how it may be cloaked in the garb of ‘common good.’
We stand with our public libraries and will continue to support the people and places that serve as beacons of knowledge to people from all walks of life.
Want to learn more about how CBA supports public libraries?