I am so, so very tired of writing this same article. But, here we are again!! Usually it’s Paul Ryan who tries to destroy federal funding of libraries; but this time the budget comes from the White House, and yes – eliminates the IMLS and federal funding for libraries.
I AM LITERALLY SO FURIOUS ABOUT HAVING TO KEEP HAVING THIS CONVERSATION OVER AND OVER AGAIN THAT I AM SCREAMING AS I TYPE! I would really like to stop doing this. I would like to have the kind of world where libraries, and their amazing contributions to their communities, are just automatically funded. Where libraries are not treated as if they are some kind of disposable indulgence that can be waved away on a whim. Where we get money because our ROI is pretty darn fantastic!!!
We will never tell you who to vote for – that is always your important choice, and a decision you make for yourself. But we know libraries are important in your life. You can see how libraries make a difference in the lives of your patrons. You know that the communities you serve, however they are defined, are better because your library is there.
You know this. I know this.
But once again, we need you to go tell some politicians this basic truth.
You might not receive money directly from the IMLS; but know that the power of our federal agency does impact on your library and your work. When we have no voice in Washington – then what? How easy will it be to think all libraries are just meaningless? That your library, and your job, can just be waved away? Too easy.
And of course, we all benefit directly from IMLS money to Minnesota. Nearly $3 million dollars each year comes to us from IMLS; read all about it here.
CMLE is hosting a Virtual Library Legislative day event on March 6, to mirror the in-person Legislative Day happening in St. Paul. We would love it if you could go to the in-person event – and we will give members scholarship money to go tell legislators about the value of your library! If you can’t go, we want you to come to us that day; we will feed you cookies as you tell your stakeholders about the value of the library.
I say this all the time, but it’s so true. Who is standing up for your library, for your patrons, and for your community? You just have us; we just have you. We both need to get on this, and to overwhelm these bozos who do not understand the value of libraries, so I can stop writing this same thing every year!!
Here is a press release from ALA:
Advocacy Alert: Federal Library Funding
This week, the White House released its budget proposal for FY2019. As we anticipated, the budget proposed a significant cut to federal library funding. The administration’s budget proposal eliminates the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which provides approximately $183 million in direct funding to libraries through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The budget proposal also eliminates the $27 million Innovative Approaches to Literacy program administered by the Department of Education.
Why It Matters
These proposed cuts would impact many libraries across the country. While public and school libraries would see the largest effects, academic libraries with state-funded databases are also implicated. Since each state is required to match one-third of their federal LSTA grants, any cut to LSTA in the FY2019 budget is likely to lead to a cut on the state level. In addition, the cuts to IAL specifically target school library funding, which will make it harder for vulnerable schools to acquire the books, resources, and training needed to provide high-quality literacy programs for their students.
Wait, What Happened to the FY 2018 Budget?
Last week, Congress passed and the president signed an FY2018 budget deal that will likely include at least level funding for federal library programs at FY 2017 levels. While this budget agreement is a positive step towards resolving the FY 2018 budget, Congress will still be working on the final spending bill for a few more weeks. The ALA Washington Office will continue to monitor progress on the bill.
What You Can Do Now
Congress will have the final say on budget allocations for these programs in the FY2019 budget. Now is the time to let them know how important federal library funding is to their constituents. Use the ALA Action Center to send your Representatives an email and ask for their public support of library funding throughout the FY2019 appropriations cycle.
This will be a many-step process and we will need your help at key times along the way. Stay tuned for updates.
Need More Information?
Here is a press release from the Corporate Committee for Library Investment Issues:
“The Corporate Committee for Library Investment (CCLI), an organization of more than 90 U.S. corporations united to support federal library funding, believes that the proposed cuts to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) damage critical economic and educational infrastructure. We urge Congress to restore full federal funding for America’s libraries in the FY2019 budget.
Like last year, CCLI’s message to members of Congress remains the same: libraries are worth the investment. Libraries and library businesses themselves spend more than $8 billion on goods and services provided by thousands of businesses. They bring leaders, experts, entrepreneurs, veterans, students and other community members together to solve difficult problems— from access to opportunity and academic success, to work-readiness and literacy. Furthermore, they launch careers, spark passions and offer countless materials, programs and services to bolster the overall health and wellness of the communities which they, and CCLI companies, serve.
CCLI does business in every state in the nation, collectively generating several billion dollars in annual revenue, employing thousands of people and financially enabling scores of other businesses in our supply and service chains to hire thousands more. The health of our businesses, our workers and all of our communities is inseparable from the health of libraries and their full federal funding.”
Right now, I’m going to go flop on my couch, feel sorry for myself and for libraries, and maybe have some healing Ben and Jerry’s. Tomorrow, I’ll be ready to dive back in and ADVOCATE for libraries!!! Join me!!!