Slashing library funding will hurt our community
President Trump has completely eliminated funding for the Institute for Museum & Library Services (IMLS) in his 2018 “America First” budget proposal. The IMLS funds many library and museum services across the country, including many in Western New York. The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library has been the beneficiary of generous funding from the IMLS in recent years.
As employees of the downtown branch, we are in a unique position to see the critical role libraries play in this 21st century. As an inner-city library serving a predominantly low-income community, we provide what is for many patrons their sole point of access to the internet. This service alone is invaluable; internet access is as necessary for survival in the modern world as any home utility. We have the privilege of helping patrons find employment opportunities, housing, immigration resources and connect with social services on a daily basis. The library at which we work has a MakerSpace with several 3-D printers and a loyal patronage of brilliant kids who will, we are sure, go on to greater things in STEM fields.
The downtown library is a great place to find books, but it is not just a place to find books. Our unique vantage point allows us to see precisely how Trump’s budget proposal would hurt our community, and we cannot watch idly as our public resources are sacrificed for the benefit of a monied few.