This morning, an email from “The Handmaid’s Tale” author Margaret Atwood was sent to New York Public Library patrons, asking them to support libraries in their fight for increased city funding for Fiscal Year 2018.
The note — which had the subject line “There Are No Public Libraries in The Handmaid’s Tale’s Gilead” and can be read in full here — is part of the “Invest in Libraries” campaign, a partnership of The New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Library to ask the city for $34 million in additional operating funding to increase 7-day service in FY 18, as well as $150 million in capital funding to maintain and make repairs at the city’s 216 branches (the campaign released a report earlier this month highlighting the $1 billion in maintenance needs at libraries). Atwood’s letter encourages New Yorkers to support this ask by signing letters to elected officials at InvestinLibraries.org.
Atwood – who was named a New York Public Library Library Lion in 2014 – joined Malcolm Gladwell in supporting the campaign this year. In prior years, authors and celebrities such as Judy Blume, Junot Diaz, Robert Caro, Anna Deavere Smith, Patti Smith, Jeff Kinney, and many others have signed letters of support.
“There are an infinite variety of tyrannies and dystopias, but they all share one trait: the ferocious opposition to free thought, open minds, and access to information. Where people are free to learn, to share, to explore, to feel and dream, liberty grows. This is why the library matters so much. It is a democratizing and liberating force like none other. The library encourages new thinking in unexpected directions. It offers support to immigrants, students, to anyone with a well-developed curiosity or deep need for community. It is a place for minds to meet minds and hearts to move hearts.It’s no coincidence, therefore, that there are no public libraries in the dystopia I wrote about in my novel The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Atwood’s letter will also be sent to patrons in the Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library system.
You can view how the e-mail letter actually looked here.