We Honor Library Workers

By Pablo Ros ·
Tags: Our Stories

It’s no secret that President Donald Trump doesn’t read or – as he would put it – that he doesn’t need to read much because he reaches right decisions “with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had.”

Thus, it’s not surprising that his budget priorities reflect that. Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2018 includes cuts not just for the arts and public television, but would also do away with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), part of whose mission is to provide critical support to public libraries throughout the country.

The IMLS budget – $230 million in FY 2016 – consumes less than 1 percent of the entire federal budget, and it’s money well spent.

As IMLS Dir. Kathryn K. Matthew put it after Trump’s proposed cuts were announced: “The institutions we serve provide vital resources that contribute significantly to Americans’ economic development, education, health and well-being, whether by facilitating family learning and catalyzing community change or stimulating economic development through job training and skills development.”

If their only function were to provide books for reading, public libraries would still be worth every penny. But they do much more.

As this librarian pointed out in Cosmopolitan, libraries serve everyone in all kinds of ways, “from military families to refugee and immigrant youth. They can do something huge, like developing a new curriculum model for early literacy skills, or something ‘small,’ like teaching kids in a housing project how to make a comic book. They provide everything from first jobs for teenagers … to comprehensive job training and digital skill development for adults hoping to return to the workforce.”

The list goes on and on. The ways in which public libraries benefit their communities is always worth remembering, but especially today, which is National Library Workers Day.

AFSCME represents more than 25,000 librarians across the country. They work in urban library systems in cities like New York City, Seattle, Chicago and Los Angeles; at the county level in places like Hennepin County, Minn., and Multnomah County, Ore.; and in statewide library systems like in Hawaii and Delaware. Blocks from the White House, AFSCME members serve at the Library of Congress.

Today we celebrate and honor library workers who serve the public with pride and make their communities better. AFSCME will never quit on them and we will fight to make sure they get the resources they need to fulfill their public-service mission.