Originally Published: April 3, 2017 6 a.m.
The budget released by the White House on March 16 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 John McCain and Jeff Flake, as well as Representative Paul Gosar will also agree with the ALA and me.
IMLS provides critical support to 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 STEM projects, building a new generation of readers, supporting civic engagement, providing special services for special needs, and so much more. IMLS funded a program at my local library to provide computer/technology classes for the community, which greatly benefits our senior citizen population.
Taking away the $155 million that IMLS currently provides to the nation’s libraries 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 makes up just 0.003 percent 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.