Response to “Budget for America’s Future”
February 17, 2020
On February 10, 2020, President Trump released a federal budget for the 2021 fiscal year that, for the fourth consecutive year, calls for the elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). This action would run counter to recent federal commitments to supporting America’s libraries which have included reauthorization of the Museum and Library Services Act, the commissioning of a new director for the IMLS, and bipartisan support of Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding levels that help libraries better serve their communities. Now is the time to reinvest in the only federal agency dedicated to supporting libraries, not call for its elimination. The provision to eliminate IMLS is completely at odds with what we know about the vital role libraries play in communities across the country.
The March 2020 start of the federal 2020 census is one demonstration of how libraries are making a difference in people’s lives today. With a range of partners, libraries are taking a proactive role in ensuring that all residents are counted, knowing that the ultimate benefit will be the more equitable distribution of state, federal and local resources. And whether it is through workforce development programs and partnerships, services to veterans or the assurance of equity of access to broadband for all in a community, the library is an essential component of the social infrastructure. The library doesn’t just respond to documented community needs, but also seeks out emerging areas where the engagement of a reliable partner makes the difference between success and failure of an initiative. In doing so daily, libraries serve to uplift people and communities.
COSLA urges members of Congress and library supporters from across the country to focus attention on bolstering the nation’s commitment to libraries. In particular, working toward a budget that establishes LSTA funding at the level authorized by Congress. These federal dollars are returned to the states and are well spent, helping libraries to better serve residents according to priorities determined by each state.
The success stories that librarians hear, day in and day out, are a reminder that libraries serve as a vital community support in cities and towns, urban and rural, large and small. Federal support is essential to our efforts, and continued federal support makes a tremendous difference in assuring access to key resources that benefit people of all ages.
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