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Setting the Record Straight: Stimulus Includes Libraries

Currently, there is a letter circulating by Jeffrey Scherer, board chair for Libraries for the Future in New York and architect at Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle in Minneapolis, who claims the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 does not contain funding for libraries. Mr. Scherer, though good-intentioned, has misunderstood and misrepresented the bill. We wish to set the record straight before more confusion ensues. Mr. Scherer wrote that, “While it includes roads and bridges to drive across our communities, it must include our intellectual bridges, the public library.” Libraries are, in fact, included as a qualifying institution for the K-12 Repair and Modernization funding and the Higher Education Repair and Modernization funding.

Additionally, libraries can benefit from several other programs that benefit from stimulus funding in the legislation, including the Rural Community Facilities Program. Mr. Scherer is correct that libraries should benefit from the funds included to modernize federal and other public infrastructure, and it is our job as librarians and library supporters to inform Congress and our governors of this fact.

Click here to view the full text of the House version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Click here to read the ALA summary of programs included in the House version of the stimulus that can benefit libraries.

We will continue to update the District Dispatch as we move forward in this process.

Emily Sheketoff
Executive Director ALA Washington Office

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  1. Below is a copy of an email sent to Emily by Craig Buthod, Director, of the Louisville Free Public Library re her comments in this post. The ALA press release (linked in the post) concerning public libraries being eligible under the section on rural libraries misses the point. According to ( 80% of citizens in the USA live in urban areas.

    In addition, the only libraries that are eligible (as I read it) are higher education academic libraries (engineering and science related); K-12 libraries.

    I trust we can get this straightened out. But as I read it, Public Libraries are out of luck. This does not diminish the importance of the above funding–it is all critical. I just prefer to have the glass full (actually brimming over)–not half full.

    Jeffrey Scherer, AIA
    Chair, Libraries for the Future
    Library Architect, Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd.

    The following email is posted by Jeffrey Scherer on behalf of Craig Buthod, Director of Louisville Free Public Library:

    From: Craig Buthod
    Sent: Friday, January 16, 2009 4:52 PM
    To: ‘’
    Subject: your column on District Dispatch

    I’m concerned that you missed the point of Mr. Scherer’s letter in circulation today, that public libraries are being left out of funding in the stimulus legislation. The legislation reads clearly enough to me that public libraries don’t do very well, although school libraries and academic research libraries have a shot at getting projects funded. I’m happy for those school and academic libraries but we can’t give up. Our public library has a list of renovation projects that are ready to go and would create 370 jobs in 90 days. Within the state ofKentucky there are 27 counties that have projects that are also ready to go. Our congressman’s legislative director has told us that our projects won’t qualify under the two sections you cite. So let’s not ease back on our push for Congress to get this right. Public libraries are critical community assets and economic development tools. Let’s pull together to keep them effective in this economic crisis. I sure hope ALA’s Washington Office isn’t giving up when we’re so close.

    Craig Buthod
    Louisville Free Public Library

  2. mel mel

    I am reading this the same as Mr. Scherer. I do not see support, and definitely not explicit support for public libraries.

    This is a question I will be asked at the local level. The text of the bill is being circulated in municipal government circles. I am ready and willing to take the text of 1/16 ALA doc to my local decision-makers but it would be much easier if there would be *explicit* inclusion of public libraries in this bill. I think it is a weak case at best.

    I truly believe this is an oversight and not deliberate, but I am looking forward to the continued/revised response of my association to this vital piece of legislation.

    mel lightbody

  3. d corner d corner

    It is difficult to realize that public libraries are nowhere to be found in the Recovery Act. Yes, rural public libraries could benefit from funding but I’m not exactly certain what that even entails.

    Public libraries need renovation/expansion construction money! Funding for programs will undoubtedly help large urban libraries but won’t be useful to the vast majority of medium-sized public libraries. And neither will the portion of the Act that provides money to hire seniors. That’s just what most public libraries do not need – the use of limited and stretched staff to create and supervise programs of limited value or one-time usefulness.

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