Bullying Librarians Is for Know-Nothings | The Nation

Voters filing out of a library in west Michigan last year were proud to show off their “I voted” stickers. Ironically, most of them had just voted to defund the library itself.

This is the result of just one battle in the broader Republican war on knowledge, insidiously disguised as a campaign to advocate for parents and protect children.

Meanwhile, with Republicans on the offensive, Democrats are failing to mount an effective defense. On the contrary, New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently announced a major cut to the city’s beloved public libraries: over $30 million over the next three years.

Libraries are often misunderstood as a relic of the past in an increasingly digitizing world. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. More than just a place to check out books, libraries represent one of very few public spaces in the United States that offer essential resources to anyone who needs them. Attacks on them are nothing less than an attack on the nation’s most vulnerable.

There are signs, though, that people have the power to combat this campaign. After all, it wasn’t the new Republican majority in Washington who defunded Patmos Library in Michigan. It was the residents of that western Michigan township. And if libraries are being attacked at the community level, that means they can be defended at the community level, too.

In the case of Patmos Library, grassroots campaigns raised $270,000 to keep it running. That’s enough to keep the branch open with zero taxpayer support until early 2025.

Of course, we shouldn’t need GoFundMe to protect our libraries. (That’s what taxes are for—the original crowdfunding!) If we believe that libraries derive their value, in part, from their ability to cultivate community, perhaps the best way to save them is by spending more time there. Go down to your local branch. Sit, read, and strike up a conversation. Tell your librarians what their work means to you—it could be a welcome reprieve from the other messages they’re getting.

And if you don’t already have one, sign up for a library card. Join the legions of card-carrying literati with a radical agenda: allowing children to learn about the world around them.