Here’s Hoping You Do The Same On Some Level In Your Community

library photo

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” — Jorge Luis Borges

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” — Groucho Marx

“So many books, so little time.” — Frank Zappa

Lest you think — looking at the quotes above — that this article is just about books, permit me to clarify that I’m just as concerned about artwork across the board. And to make sure that the reader — looking at the content below — doesn’t view this piece as U.S-centered, allow me to show how (as of five years ago) museums in Europe and elsewhere too have been experiencing unprecedented troubles… supposedly because of austerity cuts. Worldwide we can expect a further reduction of financial support for libraries and museums.

I was talking recently to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew about the President Tump’s proposed FY 2018 budget, which includes elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. It’s been progressively reduced by prior administrations — both Democratic and Republican — and, as Gus Bagakis shows in a recent article, undercutting the institute portends a national calamity.

Since its inception 20 years ago, the Institute of Museum and Library Services has provided critical support enabling museums and libraries across the country to make a tremendous difference in their communities. The institutions it serves 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.

The agency’s support also enables museums and libraries to offer singular learning experiences for students and families, as well as to increase care for, and access to, the nation’s collections that are entrusted to museums and libraries by the public. It’s invaluable, to say the least, and the threat it’s now under begs the question of how it’s possible that the highly educated folks on Capitol Hill haven’t seen fit to honor it to date.

IMLS invested in rural and smaller communities by supporting basic infrastructure and by developing libraries as local community hubs for broadband connectivity and digital literacy training — helping many residents gain job-related skills and, in many cases, find employment. In short, their grants and programs support libraries and museums as essential contributors to improving Americans’ quality of life.

Every state and territory in the country — through a population-based formula grant program — has benefited, and the blindness with which IMLS is being treated — has been treated for so very long — is unconscionable. And the dynamic I’m touching upon should underscore the degree to which our so-called representatives do not have the Collective Good as a primary priority.

I have a unique personal library which I’m willing to donate to some organization or institute in the new community I’ve relocated to; it’s a collection of volumes, recordings, films, maps, etc. which I put together during decades in academia and during worldwide travels over fifty years. Even though my new town has a public library, I fancy that my books and other items will serve as a decent supplement to what they have to offer (especially if I curate it), and I’m looking forward to encouraging youngsters and adults respecting civic engagement… including doing something about the horrid societal momentum we’re experiencing in realms all across the spectrum.

Here’s hoping you do the same on some level in your community.

Richard Martin Oxman can be reached at [email protected]He agrees with Oscar Wilde that if one cannot read a book over and over again, there is no reason in reading it at all. Ditto for returning to artwork all along the spectrum. 



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