Laura Bush appropriates title of IMLS grant for librarians

For years the IMLS has been offering grants for LIS research and the education of librarians not appreciably different the one announced today on the IMLS website, except that this year’s grant program (and last year’s?) is called the “Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Grant,” as though the grant were her idea or funded by her personal wealth. This is a shameful appropriation of the good will of the public toward librarians. How false, how fraudulent, and how desperate.

19 comments on “Laura Bush appropriates title of IMLS grant for librarians

  1. Here is a study that support your observation:

    The Higher Education Act of 1965, Title II-B, Fellowship Program, was first enacted to alleviate the critical shortage of professionally trained librarians and the serious shortage of graduate library school faculty. During the ensuing years, the program’s emphasis shifted variously between the recruitment of minorities or specialized training.

    This document summarizes a descriptive survey of fellowships awarded under the Library Education and Human Resource Development Program (formerly the Library Career Training Program), Title II-B of the Higher Education Act of 1965. The study covers the years 1985 through 1991.

  2. Well, Rory, she announced the program here as a $10 million proposal contained in President Bush’s FY 2003 budget. So it seems fair to say it was his idea funded through his budget proposal. Feel better now?

    Laura Bush has done more for America’s libraries than you ever will.

  3. Framing and Naming.

    Every federal budget cycle can review older grants, reorganize and even rename them. Maybe add some money, too. The heavy lifting on fellowships for library education was done years ago. Pointing out that Mrs. Bush has appropriated a long-standing program is simply stating what others choose to overlook. And of course the opportunistic recipients of this largesse in agencies are going to get help where they can for the greater good even if they have to put Mrs. Bush’s name on the bookshelves. Those who stand to gain aren’t likely to yelp too much, either. Who would want to deny a student funding? What faculty member would want to miss the chance to win one of these grants that adds to one’s standing in academe? The Laura Fellowships at once compromise the recipient and the principal investigators. How can one criticize the government if one won a Laura Bush fellowship or if one won a grant that gives out Laura Bush fellowships?
    Other presidents’ wives could have supported what was already in the hopper, added a little after-burner hype and named it for themselves. But they did not. This administration is far more clever at using public funds for GOP/Bush family agrandizement than previous ones. Since the Grover Norquist Ronald Reagan Legacy Project set the tone for naming-mania, Republicans have fallen all over themselves framing and naming.

    This self-serving sort of move is not often caught because people have so little memory. The old Title II-B Fellowships prior to the re-org of libraries under IMLS in 1996 are the ancestors of the Mrs. Bush initiative. It doesn’t take a lot of logic to see that hyping the Bush admin. on thousands of resumes of future librarians (I was a Laura Bush Fellow!!!) is a clever ploy for this administration.
    Why is Mrs. Bush so needy of self-promotion?
    Why do people like Jack feel that knowing historical facts that drive politics should be ridiculed? Does it make him ashamed that someone would examine the motives of the GOP and see that the Mrs. Bush program might, just might, have more to it than altruism? Why does the mere suggestion that the Bush administration is buying good will cause the GOP apologists to be unleashed? Can nothing be questioned? Republicans don’t like dissent, nor do they like their true motives revealed.
    It’s nice Mrs. Bush slapped her name on this. She has to do something besides canceling poetry readings where a poet might dissent.
    Mrs. Barbara Bush also used librarians and literacy for a cover. When she contributed money to the Hurricane Katrina fund she actually sent it to her son Neil’s company so she could at once get a tax-deduct and help the family coffers.
    I am particularly sensitive to these kinds of shenanigans having seen Katherine Harris (the one who ran the 2000 election in Florida AND the state library) put up all kinds of state funded billboards exclaiming that she and Jeb Bush would “end the scourge of adult iliteracy!!” This got their names out before the 2002 elections and attached them to a good cause. Last time I looked Florida is still at the bottom of education and their self-promotional billboards notwithstanding –the scourge was forgotten after the election.
    Bottomline? I think it is wrong to appropriate libraries as the property of any one political camp. The Title II-B Fellowship program educated many many librarians without tarnishing the program by self-serving reframing as the president’s wife’s pet project.
    Now Jack says we can’t even point out the obvious. Like George Bush says, It’s Unacceptable to Think.

  4. Rory, and Kathleen – thank you for questioning the naming of the IMLS programs. A lot of us in the field are very bothered by this, especially since the tax and allocation policies of this adiminstration and similar administrations at the state and local levels have resulted in less money going to our public community, school and academic libraries.

    I personally feel that a librarian recruiment program should be named after a librarian who has been a leader in recruitment – either contemporary or historically. How about Ernestine Rose or E.J. Josey or Arnulfo Trejo? Those would be appropriate names.

  5. It’s nice Mrs. Bush slapped her name on this.

    I must have missed the part where it was shown that she had anything to do with naming the grant. You’ve both asserted it now. Are you making it up, or what?

  6. Hm… I’m not sure that’s really the issue. It’s nothing against her personally so much as it’s against the administration; she is used by the Bush administration in a propaganda role. I think it’s very difficult to discern what are her personal decisions and what decisions come from somewhere (who knows where) in the administration. I think the question of her own personal responsibility or culpability is a distraction from the question of how she is used. Perhaps I should have given this posting a different title; point taken as far as that goes.

  7. Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program???????????

    That’s how the IMLS has renamed a long-standing grant program in sickening adoration of the President’s wife — and as an act of fealty to our illiterate President?

    How about: “Seemingly Clueless Wife of International War Criminal 21st Century Librarian Program” ?

    If you think the Bush family/Administration should enter posterity with its name attached, in an act of oblivious obsequiousness, to an ALREADY EXISTING grant program, formerly unnamed for anyone, connecting Bush et cie. with the promotion of — of all things — culture, then I suggest you read this final report of an international tribunal accusing the man Mrs. Bush shares her life with — and owes her notoriety to– of being gulity of war crimes and crimes against humanity…

    Also, if you lost count… read this report of how many prisoners are in Bush’s gulag. 14, 000 and still growing. Perhaps we should ask Laura Bush if she’s encountered anything about this in her extensive readings and what she thinks of it …

  8. A further note regarding the question of Laura Bush’s personal responsibility…

    I think questions about personal responsibility and culpability become complicated when you’re talking about people who are at the heads of such large power systems as the United States Government (whether Presidents or First Spouses). At that level of power and symbolism, individuals become at once more than people and less than people. They are still people who make decisions, but the context of their decisionmaking is entirely different from ours, and the extent to which their decisions are free is questionable. The President and First Lady, it seems to me, make their decisions in the context of bargaining and dependency within a complex power network. And the figurehead role of the position is important – they are symbols of the country. So when we talk about the decisions of George Bush or Laura Bush, I think we are talking about them in a different way than we talk about ordinary individuals; we are talking about the people but also the positions and the networks of power to which they are attached and which their decisions represent. Both of them are symbols as well as people. So, I think feminist arguments about treating women as independent individuals are somewhat misplaced when talking about Laura Bush. She is a dependent person for an entirely different reason.

  9. There were several insightful additional comments posted on discussion lists regarding the naming of Fellowships and since these are in the public domain I am adding them to these comments since Library Juice has the most complete report of the discussion.
    For a complete review of items apprearing on the ALA Council list and the ALA International Relations Round Table see the archives of these lists:
    —-Original Message Follows—-
    From: Al Kagan
    To: ALA International Relations Round Table
    Thu, 21 Sep 2006 22:52:55 -0500

    I was trying to stay out of this discussion, but it has gotten to the point where I think I need to weigh in. Whether one agrees or not with Mark and the way he makes his points, this is certainly an important topic of debate. There are many librarians who opposed ALA’s attempt to be nice to the Bush Administration. Tellingly the large auditorium where our so-called First Lady spoke looked quite empty. It seems that the folks in charge of scheduling the venue thought that thousands would go to her program. They were wrong. I was one of the few who rose to the hastily called task of distributing flyers outside the door. By the way, the conference security left us alone for awhile but just before the beginning of her talk tried to intimidate us from distributing flyers. We held our ground and they eventually relented. In fact, one person in the group challenged them to arrest her for expressing her free speech.
    When I was arguing for opposing the entire USA Patriot Act, not just the section related to library records, I said that getting an exemption for libraries was a poor tactic. If we succeed in protecting libraries while the rest of the country descends into a new kind of McCarthyism, we will have totally failed our task. This is just the tip of the iceberg. It is the Bush Administration that is destroying our civil rights at home and laying waste to whole countries overseas. The latest news is that the Pentagon has established a new group to plan the coming war on Iran.
    Laura Bush is part of this plan. She is cleverly trying to win us over to silence us on the larger questions. We can’t let that happen.
    Those who think Laura Bush is doing something independent of a larger strategy are mistaken. They should rethink what is going on. Any short term gain for librarians by playing Laura’s game can easily turn into a long term disaster for our country and the whole world.
    Al Kagan
    On Sep 21, 2006, at 7:06 PM, Mark C. Rosenzweig wrote:
    If Laura Bush is going to be canonized in the US library world despite her connections to this administration –or because of them –and in complete capitulation to the administration’s tactics of using her and her activities to put a “smiley face” on the detestable policies they >pursue, it is a legitimate topic of discussion on this or any library list.Politics, supposedly so anathema to librarianship, has been introduced >here not by me but by the decision to go along with the PR machine of >thje Administration in creating a cult of Laura Bush, “librarian and >teacher”.>
    >On this list devoted to international aspects of librarianship, I feel >it perfectly legitimate to suggest that in the eyes of the world (even >ALAWORLD) anything which connects US librarianship to this >administration –with its global policies of war, torture and occupation — is open to question, debate and criticism.>
    >I strongly urge you all to read the two documents whose URLs I forwarded previously and ask yourself, if we giving awards and naming programs >after her, what Laura Bush really stands for in relation to the big >issues which surround her everyday.>
    >And, frankly, I don’t care what Nancy Bolt tells me about where I should take this, or what Mr. Cooperman says. I am a member of ALA and a >Councilor. I feel perfectly entitled to post on this list and will >continue to do so as I wish.>
    >Mark C. Rosenzweig,ALA Councilor at large.

  10. I am also reposting my own comment made at the ALA International Relations Round Table Discussion List.
    # Subject: [ALAWORLD:1860] Grover Norquisting of Librarianship
    # From: “Kathleen de la Peña McCook”
    # Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2006 07:32:55 -0400.

    Grover Norquisting of Librarianship.

    Norquist used naming to obliterate Reagan’s numerous violations of
    human rights and people’s rights. Today, thanks to naming and framing, Reagan’s so-called “legacy” is 180 degrees opposite of the truth. The Republicans think that If it worked for Reagan it can work for Laura Bush and by association the man who took us to war on lies.
    If we fall for this we are foolish. If we know it and let it go we are complicit.
    53 U.S. troops have died this month so far.

  11. I apologize for interrupting the discussion with an aside, but I think this story highlights the importance canning the “Laura Bush” bit:

    While I was working the reference desk at the Ottawa Public Library yesterday, I spoke with an older woman who was interested in taking one of the library’s computer courses for seniors. As she looked through our programs booklet she got all frustrated as she said, “But I can’t find the prices anywhere!”

    So I said, “It’s free! It’s the public library!” And she smiled so widely, and then said, as she left the desk, “That Carnegie sure was a great fellow, wasn’t he?”

    That’s right. Andrew Carnegie, Creator of Public Libraries. Wow.

  12. Nonsense.

    Carnegie took a portion of his own, albeit largely ill-gotten, money to fund a huge national project whose implications went far beyond his narrow vision of educating the working classes for the good of the capitalist system.

    Laura Bush is doing nothing but disbursing public monies for maximum PR effect for herself and her husbands administration, coopting existing programs and creating nothing new, better, or more far-reaching.

    She poses as defender of library values but is a defender of censorship and of educational programs which are gutting the public education system in this country. The administration’s flagship “No Child Left Behind” program which she so heratily supports is destructive of free, liberal education and is an agenda-driven attempt to impose a retrograde eductaional philosophy on the nation while eroding th einstitutional basis for quality education for all,

    She is abusing the good will that librarians have garnered over many decades of struggle in order to advance an educational agenda completely at odds with librarian’s core values.

    If she is able to connect herself to the values of librarianship and the legacy of Carnegie, as the above commenter seems to warrant, it will only mark a complete political failure of the library profession to resist the blandishments of the administratiuon in defense of principle and the nation’s cultural future.

  13. In an essay in Counterpunch about authors not invited to the National Book Festival

    Will David Cortright appear to read from his masterful Gandhi And Beyond: Nonviolence for an Age of Terrorism?

    Of course the answer is “no.” The essayists conclude:
    The National Book Festival is a public/private partnership — read — corporate controlled.

    See the entire essay:

  14. Changing presidents didn’t make any difference. We are in another war. The Fugs were right. Kill for Peace.
    We just spent over $100 million on Tomahawk missiles in Libya.
    At least Laura Bush gave libraries a boost. I regret being so righteous several years ago. Nothing seems to change in global politics when it comes to U.S. policy.

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