President Obama sent to Congress yesterday his $4.23 trillion dollar FY17 budget request, which was greeted with uniform skepticism among many Republicans. This will be the President’s final budget to Congress before he leaves office.
Proponents for library funding are disappointed in the decreased funding request for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) of over $500,000. A more severe cut of nearly $950,000 is recommended for the Grants to States program, which will result in a reduced grant allocation for every state. Also recommended for cuts is the Native American Library Services (cut over $200,000) and the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian program (cut by $500,000). The National Leadership Libraries program, however, is recommended to receive an increase of $628,000 while funds to IMLS for Research, Evaluation, and Data Collection are increased by over $200,000.
Given the tight budget atmosphere in Washington and a search for programs to cut, the President’s recommended cuts for LSTA could not come at a more inopportune time.
In a statement to the media, ALA President Sari Feldman noted “we are truly disappointed that the President’s budget does not recognize the value libraries bring to our country. Every day America’s libraries create individual opportunity and community progress…by cutting federal funds to libraries, the President’s budget is making it more difficult for libraries to do their job.”
For Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL), the news was more encouraging. This program which provides funds for school libraries was recommended to receive level funding at $27 million. This was the first time the President recommended funding for IAL – last year the President’s budget did not recommend any funding for IAL.
Overall, education funding would receive approximately a three percent increase in the President’s request.