Economy & Budget

Trump drops the mother of all bombs on libraries

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The most lethal weapon in the Trump administration’s arsenal is the attack on truth.

The proposed zero funding for libraries fits into a pattern to “uneducate” the American population. That’s a comment I received on Take Action for Libraries Day from a listener on Wisconsin Public Radio

During Virtual Library Legislative Days May 1-4, let your representatives and senators know how important libraries are to the truth.

Another listener noted that a rural library is Wisconsin has found it necessary to hold an eight-hour course on distinguishing truth. When the White House decides to make its visitor log private and muzzle federal employees, citizens need a neutral place to distinguish between fact and fiction. 

{mosads}Like the zero allocations for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Trump’s move to eliminate the Institute for Museum and Library Services is the antithesis of what great figures have done throughout history. 


Three of the six Carnegie libraries constructed in Los Angeles remain as thriving cultural and intellectual hubs long after his steel mills were shuttered. As the Los Angeles Times has observed in its courageous editorial series, the irresponsibility of this reckless administration is generational in impact. The very amenities that we associate with the civilizations of the past are the libraries, museums, galleries and music. 

Make no mistake, the attack on the agencies which promote discourse and diversity of viewpoints is part of a planned assault on such policies as financial services integrity, environmental justice, improved healthcare, education and nutrition and even the right to vote. 

The recent renovation of the A.C. Bilbrew library of the County of Los Angeles Public Library helps explain why libraries are such a core function of democracy. Since the 1970s, it has housed the Black Resource Center, with such programs as an African -American History Book Club meeting regularly. 

It reopened in February and returned 21,000 square feet of library space to public use.

In San Francisco, we’ve presented a seven-week course of California African-American history from January to March for the past eight years in the branches of the San Francisco Public Library in conjunction with the National Park Service because libraries provide the authenticity and clarity for new perspectives. 

When only 14 percent of African-American middle school students are reading at grade level, we need to expand library services. When children learn about the significant black heritage of Los Angeles, a city where 26 of the 44 original pobladores were listed with African heritage in the Spanish census and where Paul Revere Williams is among the most prolific and visible architects, they can set a course toward making the same impact as young Jackie Roosevelt Robinson.

Denying libraries the funding to offer services in rural communities and overlooked urban areas drops a bomb on their futures. Our nation could have built 40 new libraries for the cost of the 60 missiles fired at a Syrian air base.

While researching the 6,000 site California African-American Freedom Trail over the past 10 years, I have found libraries to be invaluable preserves for primary sources, particularly those which go against the grain of conventional wisdom.

As part of our Make Your Name campaign, we are bringing local students to the Pico House Hotel to re-enact the history of this hotel, energ! y and political pioneer that I learned about a quarter-century ago while reporting on police brutality. 

Libraries are a place where anyone can find their niche.

Hopefully, the nationwide furor touched off by the Trump administration’s attack on libraries will cause a re-evaluation of federal support for libraries.

John William Templeton is the former editor of the San Jose Business Journal, Richmond Business Journal and the Winston Salem Chronicle. He’s a regular contributor with San Francisco Chronicle.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags Budget budget cuts Donald Trump funding Jackie Robinson Libraries Los Angeles National Endowment for the Arts

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