ALA, library community, advocates, call on nation’s leaders to safeguard IMLS funding
CHICAGO – Libraries of all types are part of a delicate ecosystem that supports the transformation of communities and lives through education and lifelong learning. From the cradle to the grave, libraries provide invaluable resources that serve as a lifeline for billions of users for access to technology, early and digital literacy instruction, job-seeking resources, social services and small business tools.
During National Library Week April 9 – 15, The American Library Association (ALA) will launch Take Action for Libraries Day, a national library advocacy effort observed for the first time on the Thursday of National Library Week, April 13.
In response to President’s Trump proposed budget cuts, this year’s Take Action for Libraries Day will highlight the library community’s efforts to safeguard funding for the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which serves as a critical funding resource for every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. territories to support libraries and museums. IMLS funding helps support literacy programs for youth, small business service centers, services for veterans and technological resources and services like 3-D printers.
“We must stand-up and voice our support for libraries to legislators and local, state and federal leaders,” said ALA President Julie Todaro. “Librarians and library workers transform lives every day though educational resources and expert guidance. While many value the contributions of libraries, libraries can’t live on love alone. The loss of crucial federal funding will have a profound impact on library service and the more than 1. 5 billion who rely on them.
“During Take Action for Libraries Day, the ALA encourages librarians, library workers and patrons to advocate for full funding of IMLS which will safeguard federal funding for our nation’s libraries. Our hope is that advocates will fight for libraries by making at least five calls to their legislators to ask for full support of IMLS funding.”
Libraries play an invaluable role within their communities and federal funding plays a significant part in supporting library programs and services. For example, The Athens-Limestone (Alabama) Public Library depends on IMLS funding to build and update collections; support computer, Job Searching, and Resume classes; fund its books-by-Mail service for homebound residents; and Sensory Storytimes for those with special sensory needs. If funding cuts transpire, the loss of IMLS funding that goes to the state, will cut or drastically reduce services for the blind and physically impaired; statewide summer reading programs; homework help resources; Technical/IT support; and genealogy resources.
In Philadelphia, IMLS provides a sixth of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s annual budget. Federal funding is used to support print and digital collections, databases and business resources. Cuts on the federal level will have a negative impact on the library’s job training and literacy services available to the city’s most vulnerable and marginalized members will be eliminated, or diminished. Philadelphia’s unemployed, low literate, and immigrant populations will have fewer resources to choose from and the thousands of citizens that rely on the library for internet access will experience a deeper digital divide. Also small business owners will lose access to crucial web resources.
The ALA and its more than 57.000 members will continue to work to encourage patrons to contact their local legislators to safeguard IMLS funding; foster library tours for legislators and local leaders to see business research computer classes in action, or veteran’s support groups learning about online resources to assist their families with financial wellness resources; and to provide advocacy tools to Fight for Libraries! Several ALA divisions are currently offering resources that will fuel advocacy efforts to youth, young adult, public library, school library and academic library services. For additional information regarding IMLS and what it provides for your state funding visit the IMLS website.
First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special participate. National Library Week celebrations also include the release of the American Library Association’s 2017 “State of America’s Libraries Report” on Monday, April 10; National Library Workers Day, April 11; and National Bookmobile Day on Wednesday, April 12. In addition, April is School Library Month, which is sponsored by the American Association of School Librarians, a division of the ALA.
For more information on National Library Week, please visit ILoveLibraries.org/NLW
About the American Library Association
The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 57,000 members in academic, public, school, government, and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.