Well, according to this dismal piece of news, Wisconsin’s Ayn Rand obsessed supporter of privatization, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, has decided to try out his very bad ideas on libraries:
In a new budget released today from Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), the House Budget Committee Chairman denounces the critical role that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) plays in supporting civic engagement, literacy and lifelong learning in more than 123,000 libraries nationwide. Rep. Ryan recommends that the federal government not have a role in libraries and that Congress shift the federal agency’s responsibilities to the private sector in his 2015 fiscal year budget resolution.
This is, obviously, morally reprehensible legislation, for reasons ALA President Barbara Stripling notes here.
That libraries remain, so far as possible, socialized forces immune to the demands of the capitalized market is central to the unique place libraries have in American society. As writer Zadie Smith puts it,
A library is a different kind of social reality … which by its very existence teaches a system beyond the fiscal.
ALA gives several reasonable suggestions for what you can do to stop legislation like this, which would harm lots of people for whom public libraries provide their only access to technology (one in five Americans do not have internet access) and is, as one commentator has noted, “a bad idea for American society:”
Moving forward, the American Library Association is asking library users, students, parents and teachers to contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives by going to the Legislative Action Center and urge them to support funding in the 2015 fiscal year for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL).
It is interesting to note that, according to a piece in Library Journal, President Stripling is “less worried about the proposal itself than she is about the sentiments that underlie it.”
Perhaps worth keeping in mind the next time you recommend Atlas Shrugged!