House budget dismisses role of IMLS

Paul RyanIn a new budget released today from Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), the House Budget Committee Chairman denounces the critical role that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) plays in supporting civic engagement, literacy and lifelong learning in more than 123,000 libraries nationwide. Rep. Ryan recommends that the federal government not have a role in libraries and that Congress shift the federal agency’s responsibilities to the private sector in his 2015 fiscal year budget resolution.

A Hedberg librarian helps a patron apply for college. Photo by Hedberg Public Library.

A Hedberg librarian helps a patron apply for college. Photo by Hedberg Public Library.

More than $180 million has been appropriated to the Institute for Museum and Library Services through September 2014 to help libraries make information and services available to the citizens they serve. American Library Association (ALA) President Barbara Stripling released a statement in response to Rep. Ryan’s unfortunate budget proposal (pdf).

“Library funding support from the Institute for Museum and Library Services wields large returns in the form of literate and civically engaged communities,” Stripling said in a statement. “We hope that Congress will support the important role that the Institute for Museum and Library Services plays in supporting educated communities by rejecting the House Budget resolution.”

Facts about library use in Rep. Paul Ryan’s own state of Wisconsin:

  • Just blocks from Rep. Ryan’s Wisconsin office, more than 716,000 visitors used the Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, Wisconsin to access library computers and research databases, check out books and receive job training in 2013.
  • More than 65 percent of Wisconsin libraries report that they are the only free access point to Internet in their communities.
  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services administered more than $2.8 million in the 2014 fiscal year to help Wisconsin libraries prepare young students for school and provide lifelong learning opportunities for all Wisconsin residents.
  • The state of Wisconsin reported that more than 215,000 children participated in summer reading programs in state public libraries.

Now is the time for action. Moving forward, the American Library Association is asking library users, students, parents and teachers to contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives by going to the Legislative Action Center and urge them to support funding in the 2015 fiscal year for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL).

Advocates can support IMLS by tweeting Rep. Ryan at @RepPaulRyan.

Jazzy Wright is the Press Officer of the American Library Association's Washington Office. Email her at jwright@alawash.org.

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