ALA: Omnibus provides additional funding to libraries, will assist with recession-induced boon in usage

Bill contains increase to Grants to State Library Agencies program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 11, 2009

Contact: Jenni Terry

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Library Association (ALA) says the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which passed the Senate last night and was signed into law by President Obama this afternoon, is a victory for libraries.

The $410 billion spending bill, which includes the nine unfinished appropriations bills from last year, contains $171,500,000 for the Grants to State Library Agencies program within the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). This funding level is an increase of over $10 million from last year and also allows for full implementation of a 2003 law to provide a more equitable distribution of state formula grants.

ALA President Jim Rettig said this additional state funding will provide much-needed assistance to our nation’s libraries that are experiencing a spike in usage during the recession.

“Last year, libraries hosted more than 1.3 billion visits and are now averaging 175 million visits a month,” Rettig said.

“As Americans deal with the weakened economy, they are turning to their libraries more and more — not just for no-fee access to the Internet and free books, CDs and DVDs — but also for assistance with online job searching, resume building, 21st century job skills training, and e-government. We want to thank Congress and the White House for recognizing the need to fund libraries at the full level of the LSTA, especially during this time when Americans need their libraries more than ever.”

Rettig credited many members of Congress with working to ensure this funding was secured, and he especially thanked U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), whose leadership was essential to reaching this funding level.

“Libraries have always been a place where the community can come together, a source of common ground,” Reed said.

“Today, more and more job seekers are turning to libraries for assistance in their search. I have long advocated for this funding level because it is the amount necessary to reach a key goal included in the 2003 reauthorization of the Museum and Library Services Act that I authored to double the minimum State allotment.  This additional funding will help libraries respond to the growing demand for free access to all types of services and new technology.”

The spending bill also included $607 million for the Library of Congress, which includes $29 million to complete the transition of the Digital Talking Books program for the blind. A chart with selected program funding levels for libraries can be found here.

For more information on how libraries are helping Americans during the recession, go to www.ala.org/economynews.

About Jenni Terry

Jenni Terry was a press officer with the Washington Office.

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