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ALA springs to defense of IMLS

Institute of Museum and Library Services logoThe Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) was flagged this week as a possible program to “zero out” in the proposed House of Representative’s Concurrent Resolution on the Budget. Both the House and Senate are considering such Resolutions this week, although only the House’s plan suggests eliminating funding for IMLS.

In a press release issued just hours after the House Budget Committee’s Report became public, American Library Association President Courtney Young said:

“We are shocked and appalled that the U.S. House Budget Committee would call for the elimination of federal support for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the agency that administers federal funding to libraries. Our nation’s public libraries receive more than 1.5 billion in-person visitors (pdf) each year from students, parents, job-seekers and seniors alike. Through grant-making and federal funding, IMLS aids libraries in supporting lifelong learning and equitable access for all. Since its founding, IMLS has provided invaluable leadership and expert oversight to libraries and supported libraries in providing dynamic services to their patrons, such as workforce training, maker spaces, coding classes and entrepreneurship resources….

In no small measure, federal funds administered by IMLS also have helped leverage other federal investments in the programs of many other agencies. Libraries, for example, are front-line partners with the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and the Government Publishing Office in affording millions of Americans access to data critical to everything from home schooling, to job searching and retraining, children’s health and small business-building support.

The programs that IMLS incentivizes and expertly oversees—with among the very best efficiency records in the federal government—are literal engines of our economy at every level. We hope that Congress and President Barack Obama will support the important role that the Institute of Museum and Library Services plays in educating and supporting communities by rejecting the House Budget resolution.”

We in the ALA Washington Office will continue to monitor the budget proposal and keep you updated on any changes.

What Can You Do? Come to Washington May 4 & 5 to take part in the National Library Legislative Day. Make your direct pitch during your face-to-face meetings with Members of Congress. Register now!

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Kevin Maher

Kevin Maher is the deputy director of government relations at the American Library Association’s Washington Office. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Before coming to the ALA in 2014, Kevin was the vice president of government affairs for the American Hotel and Lodging Association for 20 years.

One Comment

  1. Jack Smith Jack Smith

    While the loss of LSTA would be significant to libraries throughout the Nation, ALA should not engage in blind support for IMLS. It’s increasingly clear that the agency needs some oversight, particularly in its grant-making. Take IMLS’s support for the Digital Public Library of America. In September 2014, IMLS awarded DPLA a non-competitive grant in the amount of $999,485 to “expand its infrastructure.” And then just yesterday (March 31, 2014), DPLA was awarded $1,999,897 (!) in the form of a Laura Bush 21st Century grant to “expanded network of open-access, content-hosting “hubs” that will enable discovery and interoperability, as well as the reuse of digital resources by people from this country and around the world.” Mind you, these grants are supposed to be capped at $500,000. Thus, IMLS, in less than one year, has awarded DPLA $3M. Where have the hearings and open discussion been about all this investment of tax-payer dollars?

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