An Island Unto Ourselves

Adhering to the Librarian party line the best I can, I was listening to my local NPR affiliate, WAMU in the war pony on the way back from Five Guys. The guest was a University adminughstrator and the topic was cuts. French and Spanish were on the chopping block.

I have the dubious distinction of being the last Latin graduate from the University at Albany, State University of New York. *Just* Latin. As in NVTS nuts.

It wasn't really too much of a surprise when they cut the Latin department. I had to threaten the Department Chair to keep it while I studied abroad, since I *was* going to graduate on time, and I *was* going to do so in Latin. It lasted a few years after my departure, thankfully. What was shocking to me was that the "University" decided to slash all language.

Thank you for downgrading my college into an elementary school. Thank goodness I went elsewhere for my graduate degree.

Now, of course, you're thinking "So what? This has naught to do with LIS." Except that it does, very much so.

We as Librarians often fill holes in the system. Kids that never learn to read end up in our halls. Small business people that get the brush from the SBA come to us for intensive assistance. The homeless find warmth in winter. Working parents entrust us with their children when they can't afford day care.

This is just another hole. It's scary though. No longer can we rely on our public University system to open our minds to new cultures. Americans already enjoy terrible marks from elsewhere in the world in terms of our knowledge of language and geography. Apparently this is now institutionalised so that the very wealthy can continue to enjoy the status quo. But yes, this is just another gap.

I urge all Librarians to check their most likely anaemic foreign language shelves and ensure that they're beefed up. Folks can't learn it elsewhere, for love or money.