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Urgent Action Needed to Increase Library Funding

Last week, the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over several library programs, recommended funding levels for fiscal year (FY) 2008.

We just received word on specific funding levels for library programs. The Subcommittee’s recommendation included $167.5 million for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) state grant program, $4 million UNDER the $171.5 million the President requested.

The full $171.5M is needed for full implementation of a 2003 law to provide 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 large states have said they will not allow funding increases to go just to the base after this year.

The Subcommittee also provided $2 million to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for research and statistics. IMLS requested $3.5 million; $1 million to cover the responsibilities of the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS), which was eliminated in the President’s budget request and the Subcommittee’s mark, and $2.5 million to fill the responsibilities IMLS is receiving from the Department of Education. IMLS will not be able to fill all of the research and statistics responsibilities without the full $3.5 million.

Urgent Action needed: Please contact your Member of Congress before the full Appropriations Committee marks up the bill on Thursday June 14. There will not be a chance to amend the Appropriations bill when it moves on to the House floor. The full Committee meeting on Thursday will be the last chance to change the bill so libraries receive the funding needed.

Talking points:

  • Please bring the total for the LSTA state program from $167.5 million to $171.5 million to allow full implementation of a 2003 law to provide a more equitable distribution of state formula grants.
  • Please provide the full $3.5 million for research and statistics to IMLS. Research and statistics are critical for libraries to evaluate the effectiveness of our programs.
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Jacob Roberts is the communications specialist for the ALA Washington Office.


  1. Carolyn Caywood [Visitor] Carolyn Caywood [Visitor]

    Please add a talking point urging full funding for the NLS digital talking book transition. It is critical that the new equipment be funded before the old machines wear out and deprive people of library access. Moreover, delay will increase the cost of transition.

  2. Hi Carolyn —

    We are definitely aware of the NLS funding issue. The Washington Office is working diligently to get the entire $19.1 million the program needs to exist; we’ve sent letters, done interviews, and have aggressively lobbied Congress to provide adequate funding.

    We will continue to update the website and members as the situation unfolds, and as that happens we will prepare talking points.


  3. Just a few talking points for the jaw waggers….

    1. Librarians should support the party that wishes to maintain library
    funding- don’t think too many librarians voted republican – and now you
    find democrat party slashing the bush request (sort of like electing
    O’Malley got us the gas and electric increase). So a decrease in funding
    is due to Bashing….thanks!

    2. Librarians should work to provide relevant institutions which fill

    practical needs for the local economy. Split off the teen and homeless
    day care functions and give them to local rec centers. Do a test- of the
    total number of computers on line available how many are being used most
    of the time to read e.mail or visit networking sites- my space
    etc….these are perhaps valid needs but there is another budget that
    should have to cover them…..

    3. Research and statistics? This is very funny! If you have to spend
    this much to find out that no one comes to a library program you are in

    deep trouble.Invest a few dollars in a hand clicker pen and paper! Maybe
    a calculator….. Additionally promotion of reading as with promotion of
    any other activity has its down side. It can cause reading obsession
    which imho impacts many families and individuals across the country in a
    negative way. Books and information are the program- they are always
    effective but only if they can be accessed which is generally not the

    3.There should be no need these days to travel to major research

    libraries to conduct the work so essential for producing products which
    grow the local economy. The local library needs to be more relevant, go
    beyond entertainment to play a larger role in the local economy. Voters
    will be more likely to support such institutions.

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