The new state biennial budget (FY 2012-13) in Texas, signed Tuesday by Governor Rick Perry, will reduce state funding for the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by 64 percent and will cut state funding for the agency’s library programs by 88 percent.
Coming days after my first job application rejection, this article fills me with sadness and pessimism. What am I getting myself into here? The future looks bleak and dire for librarians and as more and more of us enter programs and graduate, what are the problems we will face in the years to come?
When reports about the cuts to library services first started, I told my friend Jess (of Ask An Islamicist) that if I thought there was any rational reasoning behind stripping away funding from libraries I might be persuaded to accept the inevitable with more grace. My problem is that the Republicans in Texas seem to recognize that this is an easy “win” in cutting the budget. They’re devastating the education budget as a whole in Texas as well and there are far more people actively hurt and vocal about that. There have been many protests over cuts to school day hours, parents being charged for bus services, etc., so libraries are easy to take from because only librarians will stick up for them and we are far outnumbered by the parents, teachers, administrators, etc. that are being affected by the broader education cuts.
At the end of the day, stories like this break my heart. I grew up in libraries. I read my way through the school and local libraries, tucked up in a chair with a stack of books close to hand. I wrote my essays there. I made friends there. They are important to me, personally, just like it is important to me, personally, to make sure everyone has access to knowledge for personal edification and enjoyment. What is this world we are creating for future generations where things like that aren’t valued? Was I wrong in my recent post to believe that we’ll never see a day when books are things of the past? Or am I just naive?