In its FY 2019 budget released February 12, the White House proposed eliminating the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and hundreds of millions of dollars dedicated to America’s libraries through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The decision echoes the FY 2018 proposal, which also eliminated the grant-making agency and its programs. The administration’s budget also calls for elimination and/or severe cuts to many other federal programs that support libraries, including Innovative Approaches to Literacy, a Department of Education program.
In response, American Library Association (ALA) President Jim Neal issued the following statement:
“The administration’s FY2019 budget is out of touch with the real needs of Americans and the priorities of leaders in Congress who represent them. The president miscalculates the value of more than 120,000 libraries across America, just as he did in his FY2018 budget proposal.
“There is bipartisan support for libraries in Congress, where decision-makers know that to cut funding for libraries is to undercut opportunity for their constituents.
“Thanks to its Grants to States program, IMLS funding provides services that benefit everyone in our communities, including:
- Veterans in California who receive assistance claiming well-earned benefits to further their education, get medical treatment, start a business and transition to civilian life.
- Students in Arkansas who prepare for today’s competitive job market by participating in coding classes taught by trained school and public librarians.
- Entrepreneurs in rural North Carolina who received business development assistance from an IMLS-funded business and technology outreach librarian.
- Adults in Kansas who take GED courses and use otherwise cost-prohibitive exam preparation tools to advance their education and improve career prospects.
“This administration’s new budget also decreases resources for children. Cutting federal support for programs like Innovative Approaches to Literacy comes at the cost of early literacy and improved student achievement, especially in the most underserved areas of our nation.
“Withholding federal support for libraries means withholding services that foster achievement, develop the workforce, and contribute to local economies. ALA members will continue to highlight the value of libraries to our elected leaders in every US congressional district. And we are confident that our congressional leaders will continue to protect the federal programs that invest in our communities.”
During the Opening Session of the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits on February 9 in Denver, Neal urged members to check the ALA Washington Office resource page for the latest information and calls to action regarding federal library funding.