Though the threatened closures in Britain are startling, they are not unique to that country. Last October, Zombies marched across the Brooklyn Bridge Bridge to protest cuts to library budgets in New York City. Articles about the funding troubles of cultural heritage institutions are plentiful, even stretching beyond libraries to museums and archives. An article appearing just yesterday is the latest evidence of this trend:. NJ Historical society sells artifacts to survive
As a close follower of cultural heritage news around the world, one thing hit me this morning as I watched #savelibraries trend on Twitter. As Great Britain and the United States are fighting to keep libraries open and the news about this is plentiful, I recalled seeing media publicity about eastern nations proudly thrusting resources toward building libraries and cultural heritage centers:
Iran: Specialized National Library Research Center to open in 2011
China - New library for life-long learning
And though I understand that the media in all countries may be biased, with Western nations focused on the bad instead of celebrating successes (for there are successes) and Eastern media perhaps focused on nationalism and their country's achievement, it's an important tone to note. Developing nations recognize the value of information and are trying to use it to educate citizens to move their economies forward. Are Western nations taking their knowledge and the education of their citizenry for granted? What implications does this have for our future?
So Americans should take an interest in what is happening in Britain today. Their troubles are not unique and this path they are taking is a dangerous one.