Missouri House Republicans want to defund libraries. Here’s why

From PBS:

Missouri’s Republican-led House voted to cut all funding for libraries in its version of the state’s annual budget, an unprecedented move that has angered librarians and patrons across the state who rely on the facilities for everything from books to educational programming and internet access.

The proposal is not yet final; it now sits before the state Senate’s appropriations committee along with the rest of the annual $45.6 billion budget, and Republican chair Sen. Lincoln Hough said it would be his intention to restore library funding.

But for those who manage or use the state’s 160 library districts, especially in rural areas where services are not as robust, the threat feels real, librarians and patrons told the PBS NewsHour.

“The majority of Missouri libraries are small libraries, and for smaller communities that rely on this funding to serve their communities, to provide summer reading programing, to provide new books, new materials, books, and to pay their staff, this will have an absolutely devastating effect,” said Judy Garrett, who has served as a librarian at the Gentry County Public Library for 27 years.

Gentry County, located 90 miles north of Kansas City, is home to a little over 6,000 people, many of whom, like residents in other rural parts of the state, rely heavily on their libraries for internet access, Garrett said.

In Missouri, 20 percent of the population – more than 1.26 million people — do not have high-speed internet access. Nearly 34 percent of Missouri’s population live in rural parts of the state, where this kind of access can be harder to come by. Libraries provide a lifeline to this service, among others.

Link to the rest at PBS

PG wonders if PBS covered the Texas Library Shutdown case.

2 thoughts on “Missouri House Republicans want to defund libraries. Here’s why”

  1. One need not go to rural areas to find significant populations with little or no easy internet access. Less than a decade ago, within 40km of Apple’s main campus, there were four residential areas in San Mateo County (between San Francisco and San Jose) with difficult-to-no cell phone access, thanks to geographical features, and frequently-interrupted-for-days-at-a-time landline/cable connectivity.

    I lived just uphill from one of those areas — a set of four apartment complexes near 101 largely occupied by, umm, blue-collar single-parent families, across a major street from a major healthcare facility undergoing a years-long renovation. Fortunately, there was a public library with internet access relatively close by. One wonders how well that worked during the pandemic… because the renovation plans for that healthcare facility showed major ongoing construction until this year.

    My point is only that libraries provide critical services in urban areas, too!

  2. Library closures aren’t a new thing nor is it limited to the US.
    Back in the middle of the last decade the UK closed hundreds under austerity measures tat foud they weren’t worth the cost.

    It was even argued that all should be closed.
    One reason given was that libraries, as they were being run, were not doing what they were chartered to do:


    Some times institutions get ossified and lose sight of why they exist.
    It usually takes a “brush with death” to remind them.

    Time will tell how things play out.

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