Congress Should Support Libraries
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The White House budget released last week called for the elimination of the only federal agency that supports the nation’s libraries, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Doing away with IMLS would negatively impact every library in the U.S. by eliminating over $200 million in library funding that is distributed to every library in the U.S. through state library agencies. In order to prevent this from happening, there must be a sustained grassroots effort to advocate for restoring IMLS to the federal budget between now and when the budget is finalized in October. Because without those funds, teens will lose access to resources, services and experts they need to help them succeed in school and prepare for college, careers and life.
The budget released by the White House on March 16th proposes the elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the only federal agency dedicated to providing support to the nation’s 119,487 libraries. As a voter and a concerned citizen, I agree with the American Library Association (ALA) who calls this action “counterproductive and short-sighted.” I hope that Senators [INSERT NAMES] as well as Representative [INSERT NAME] will also agree with the ALA and me.
IMLS provides critical support to all the nation’s libraries through funds it distributes to each state library agency. States then use those funds to 1) provide free statewide services and resources, and 2) fund specific programs in local libraries that apply to the state for funds. These monies support our community in many ways. In our state, IMLS funds are used for [INSERT EXAMPLE(S) –see below for ideas].
Taking away the $155 million that IMLS currently provides to all the nation’s libraries through the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) would mean that either state and local governments would have to bear the burden of coming up with the funds, or voters and their families would lose access to critical services like job training, early literacy programs, homework help, and free access to digital tools that many of us cannot afford at home.
The $155 million libraries receive from IMLS through LSTA makes up just 0.003% of the federal budget, yet it helps our nation and our community in countless ways. I respectfully ask that my members of Congress show their support by ensuring that IMLS is not de-funded.
For anyone who wants to learn more about how IMLS helps our state and community, visit www.imls.gov/grants/grants-state/state-profiles. And to join me in acting to support our libraries and IMLS, access resources at www.ilovelibraries.org.
If you’re not sure how IMLS funds are used in your state, visit this web site:
Your example should focus on the result: how people are helped because of the service or program offered. Here are some examples of what this looks like:
- IMLS funds the state-wide online library that offers free databases and other resources like practice tests. My daughter used this resource to take practice tests for the ACT. Without this resource, I fear that her scores would not have been as high as they were. We’re so proud of her! She’s the first member of our family attending college.
- IMLS funded an adult literacy program that was offered through [INSERT LIBRARY NAME]. Last year, this program helped over 100 members of our community improve their skills enough so they could apply for jobs
- IMLS funded a program at our local library to create veteran resource centers for those in our community who have served in the military. Last year, 375 veterans visited these centers to apply for benefit claims, learn about job opportunities, find health resources, and more
For additional advocacy tools, messages and resources visit www.ala.org/yalsa/advocacy