Contact: Jenni Terry
Press Officer, ALA Washington Office
For Immediate Release
The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its Labor, Health and Human Services, Education appropriations bill yesterday with at least $15 million designated for school libraries. The bill also level-funds the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) at $189 million.
The Senate bill sets aside $30 million for national non-profit organizations and school libraries in high-need areas and directs that at least 50 percent of this funding be used for school libraries.
“Last year, funding for the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program was wiped from this bill, which left school libraries without any specific federal funding, and the President’s budget request also zeroed out the program,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office, said.
“It seems the Senate Appropriations Committee has recognized what a mistake this was, and we thank them for including new funding in the bill that will directly benefit students depending on their school libraries. Yet, we understand that there is a long road ahead and urge House appropriators to safeguard this funding for our nation’s students when they mark up their version of the bill.”
Sheketoff said protecting LSTA funding at its current level in this “slash and burn” Congress is one of the most important federal issues for public libraries.
“This is a very uncertain time for the future of many, many federal programs,” Sheketoff said.
“We knew there was a strong chance the Senate appropriators could choose to further reduce LSTA funding — or even cut it all together. While we take it as a positive sign that LSTA cleared the first hurdle, we know the race is not over yet. In these tough economic times, the public has been using their public libraries more than ever, depending on the library’s computers, Internet access and employment skills training. LSTA allows libraries to continue offering these important services.”