Guess Who’s Back and Ranting about Budget Cuts–Me!

Hello, lovely readers!

Now that I am back from my terrible hiatus (finishing the practicum), I have good news. I finally received a pass with distinction on my final assignment of the practicum. The critical essay was written on one of my personal favorite subjects, detective fiction. Over the course of writing about P.D. James’ Devices and Desires, I found an appalling aspect of our society and the education system.

How can society expect the best and brightest of future generations to expand their minds without the tools to do so? We live in an age where a college degree  (associates, bachelors, masters) is pretty much required for the job you desire, or even a job that will pay for life’s needs. The economy is struggling so badly that we are willing to sacrifice in this area, and still expect students to provide the best results. Students continually pay out of pocket for the resources (laptops, supplies, books) that should be provided for them to become useful in their own field.

What is even more disturbing is the amount of money students shell out just to go to a college, and this doesn’t include access to the best library resources available. If the students can’t do the research to complete their assignments, how do you expect them to graduate with the skills necessary to succeed?

Can’t get to the library to get to the book you need? And to buy it online would cost $100 bucks to quote a few pages and days to ship to you? Oh well!

Now before you give a response, please note that this is not the period of instant information transference. We may have the internet at our fingertips, but that does not mean that the answers are free. Most likely, they are very expensive.  This brings us to the root of the problem. We can make cut backs to our libraries or shut them down all together because it costs too much to keep them open.

All over the country, our libraries are suffering from budget cuts that are supposedly necessary to salvage some other need for society. Yet, in a world where we need that college degree to get a job, and are struggling to find positions for skilled worker (to improve the economy), we decide to cut jobs that can help our society succeed. Check out the map below and see how much our resources are cut back for students and non-students across the country. It will appall anyone with a child or love of books because the future of education is slim if this continues.

But are we really considering the long-term repercussions for making these resources unavailable to students? In many ways, the digital age has made it easier for students to utilize books to their full potential. It is considered a rule of thumb in the classroom (to this day) that print text are more reliable than online sources. This may change as books are converted to electronic format, but the majority of a student’s library resources remain on paper and stacked on shelves (especially for English majors). It is not enough to print out new editions of books each year and demand the student to buy the brand new book.  Now society expects the student to find their way to the library that may close in a few years to find the texts they need to succeed.

Ain’t it the truth?

For many of us (commuters, online students, graduate students), access to a full library is either improbable to fit into a schedule or outside of our abilities to obtain. We look to Google and Yahoo to provide us with scholarly texts that may help us to write the best papers and assignments possible. One teensy problem.  Almost every single scholarly article or journal on the public databases like JSTOR, Project Muse, Questia all require a username/password  or membership for access to any of the full articles.

Why can’t we provide access to online databases for all students (high school and up) to become the most knowledgeable individual that they can be? I don’t think it is that difficult to provide the online or the print resources with the thousands of dollars students will spend 30 year paying back. To me, this is like asking a plumber to learn how to fix pipes without giving him a wrench or tool box. I spent three days looking for resources on my paper only to be left with sad excuses for resources. I was smart enough to purchase one book, which costs me $10 literally for one quote used in my paper. I was lucky the book was available in electronic format because with a full-time job that takes up the library’s hours, it would have been impossible for me to get to a library in time to complete the paper.

The truth is the Google may provide you with the search results, but the answers you seek come at a price.

While my critical paper took 3 days to research, it could have taken a few hours. Without the access to a physical library or the literary journals needed to collect resources, I was forced to use little scholarly resources for my paper. I wish I could have gained access to more because my paper would have been a better one. I happened to luck out this time, but for thousands of students in some of the best schools in the country, they are suffering from a lack of knowledge.

Share your opinion of how students and other readers have little access to library resources. It’s not just the print books that are in danger, but the digital sources are restricted to those who can pay out of pocket for a few minutes of view time.

Anyway, Happy reading and writing all!

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4 Comments

Filed under Idea of the Day

4 responses to “Guess Who’s Back and Ranting about Budget Cuts–Me!

  1. Glad to have you back!
    It really is depressing how students are being stripped of the exact tools they need to cultivate a rewarding education. I live in Louisiana (regrettably) and our governor has basically launched a crusade against education that is puzzling at best. During my undergrad in Texas, the university library was open until midnight seven days a week. Here, budget cuts mean the library closes at 7pm, noon on Fridays, and has no weekend hours. The only way my papers got written was to BS my way through with a JSTOR-only bibliography. There are some rumors that I may have torrented one or two journals and textbooks just to gain access to articles that would have cost me $50+ to access through conventional means. Absurd.

    • Haha rumors, huh? I have my tricks to getting what I need from restricted resources, but nothing beats a fully-stocked library. PA is really suffering with that as well with Carnegie Library losing over 50% of its funds, which is ironic because Carnegie made a point to force all of his poor workers to be educated. He believed the poor especially deserved access to an education. Now, I think he’s rolling in his grave that the brightest students of our time must suffer without it(not that I’m a prodigy or anything). But dammit I deserve some books and journal articles!!

  2. I certainly agree with your take on the subject. I was at a Canadian literary conference a couple of days ago and sat in on a reading of a paper on the archives to find out that even here there are budget cuts. Soon there will be no one to sort and record what is in the archives or acquire new materials to protect our history. If these materials disappear or are made unavailable, scholars will be unable to write their papers or their books that future generations will require to get a greater education – so they will not make the same mistakes our forefathers/mothers made! In addition, the lack of these materials will definitely diminish the quality of the education our children’s children will get.

    • If I were from any different age and happened to stumble into current times, I would probably faint if I found out there were libraries being closed because the money was going to wars instead or something stupid like fattening people’s paychecks. Education is where society and humanity will progress. We have forgotten what Socrates sacrificed himself for, what philosophers and scholars have risked their lives for–the pursuit of knowledge. Ignorance is definitely taken hold.

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