That’s Iowa’s current governor, Mr. Terry Branstad. Right now, his state government is trying to fulfill their promise of cutting wasteful spending and keeping taxes low. Since they just raised taxes on gasoline, there’s something of a show to be made of actually cutting government positions. Luckily for free information, he’s decided to do that by cutting funding to the State Historical Society and their archives.
Yeah, cutting library funding. That is always such a good idea.
Now, I am a California native, but for the last many years I’ve lived, with occasional breaks, in Iowa where all of this is going down. This is where my kids go to school, where my wife teaches literature at a community college, where I’m currently working in a particularly beautiful Carnegie library. Despite the oft-reference ignorance of midwesterners, it’s actually a pretty decent place to access information, whether as a student, an artist, an instructor, or just someone who wants to look up their family history and pick up their tax forms. It’s quiet and its economy is basically sound, and it’s a fantastic place for someone like me to practice the things I do. Even if I’m always a little homesick for warm beaches, real Thai food, and (arguably better, but probably the same quality) live music, there are good people here, spectacular changes in season, and a calmness that you don’t get on the metropolitan coasts, not to mention it’s a hell of a lot cheaper.
So when the local head of state decides to make good on campaign promises, not by regulating actual abuses and streamlining departmental spending, but by kicking the state’s libraries and archives (because again, no modern person would actually use that stuff, right? I mean, historical records are just so, like, old,) it gets pretty fucking annoying. As if they want to reinforce the anti-intellectualism often equated with small town and rural areas.
Here’s my point. At the bottom of this, I’ve linked a petition, asking people to sign in response to this. I’ve signed it and I’m damn proud of it. Now, I know that a lot of you readers don’t live in Iowa, or the Midwest, or even the same country as myself. It’s all good. I’m just curious to see exactly how many names can fit on an electronic document.
It’s not only good for small area libraries, but it’s a fantastic way to stick it to the man. Who again, is this guy:
And here is the mechanism of our civil discontent: