Pump up your volumes

In her new job, 9to5 founder Nussbaum is still helping women balance work and family responsibilities.


Back to Isabel Allende or Ahead to Shmooze with CSN

Across the nation, libraries face budget cuts and closures that pose a greater threat to our intellectual infrastructure than even Beavis and Butt-head. (A staggering 47 percent of Americans are functionally illiterate.) Privatization and the religious right are also hazardous to the health of public libraries. “It’s frightening to see one of the central institutions of democracy killed,” says Grant P. Thompson, executive director of New York-based Libraries for the Future. LFF is helping communities throughout the United States, from Los Angeles to New York, mobilize to save their libraries. Some tips that work:

PLUG IN:
Volunteer with the library’s literacy programs, children’s reading groups, creation of computer databases.
TURN ON:
Use the library as a resource for your activist group. Says Thompson, “If organizations like the Gray Panthers, Sierra Club, and homeless advocacy groups each had a library committee, [LFF] could go out of business.”
GO PUBLIC:
Find out five specific things that the library has done for your community and get them publicized by the local media.
BOOK SPACE ON THE INTERNET:
Write your national representatives and tell them it’s vital that public on-ramps at local libraries be secured on the National Information Infrastructure (NII), currently under study in Washington. Warns Thompson, “Any library not connected into cyberspace is going to be three-quarters of a library.”
JOIN LIBRARIES FOR THE FUTURE:
It’s free, including the call, 1-800-LIB-1918. LFF provides resources and strategies for a successful advocacy campaign.

For example, rally round the following American Library Association-sponsored dates: library card sign-up month in September (hold a mass sign-up at a mall or community center); Banned Books Week in the last week of September (stage a “read-in” on the library steps); National Library Week in the third week of April (stage a protest rally with “what the library means to me” testimonials).

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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