Last week, the U.S House of Representatives failed to override the President’s veto of the Senate- and House-passed fiscal year (FY) 2008 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations (Labor-HHS) bill.
In order to reach a compromise with the President, the overall numbers in the bill are likely to be cut back and library funding is in danger. It is critical that librarians reach out to Members of Congress while they are home over the Thanksgiving recess for the next two weeks highlighting the importance of federal library funding.
Libraries of all kinds need money. The amount of funding that a library receives directly influences the quality of its services. While the majority of funding for libraries comes from state and local sources, federal funding provides critical assistance, giving libraries across the country the financial support they need to serve their communities.
In the FY 2008 Labor-HHS bill, the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) was funded at $224,066,000, with $171,500,000 million for the State Grant program. This funding level is crucial to libraries. It allows for full implementation of a 2003 law that provides a more equitable distribution of state formula grants. In 2003, all of the states and Congress agreed that the base should be doubled to help even the playing field for the small states, while ensuring that large states don’t face an undue burden to achieve that. Currently, all funding increases to the state program go to the base, and not to population increases for the large states.
The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program also received a long-awaited increase to $21,243,000. This is the first increase this program has received in several years.
Urgent Action Needed: Contact your Senators and Representative and tell them how important library funding is!