Member POV, Saturday Edition: They Don’t Teach You Politics in Library School
Another kind of politics—ALA Council at work.
Libraries must be engaged with their communities. Community engagement requires political engagement. This is unfortunate, but I believe libraries cannot be apathetic to the political process if they are to succeed. That is why I attended the Saturday morning Washington Office Update; I felt it important to get a political overview as it pertains to libraries. The Washington Office update was an excellent overview of the current breakdown of the political spectrum.
According to Cook Political Report Senior Editor Jennifer Duffy, the political spectrum is rife with roadblocks for any kind of library legislation. There are so many things that Washington considers a higher priority—including the 2014 elections. Duffy noted that this does not mean that libraries are considered unimportant, but that there is so much more that is taking up the attention of Congress. First it was the budget ceiling, then gun control, and now it is the special election caused by the appointment of Senator Kerry to Secretary of State. Duffy also discussed how redistricting has cemented the balance of power in the House.
There was a bit of hope in a rather bleak report, however. I was thrilled to learn of the existence of a growing group of “problem solvers” in the Senate who are willing to compromise to get things going. The update was a needed reminder of the political climate that we face today in America. I came away from it not discouraged but all the more aware of the uphill fight we face. ALA’s Washington Office has done an amazing job so far in accomplishing what it has.
CHRIS KYAUK is a librarian at San Leandro (Calif.) Public Library.