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Good news for library funding

Credit: Rocky Lubbers
Credit: Rocky Lubbers

The Senate Appropriations Committee today delivered good news for libraries by increasing funding for LSTA Grants to States and National Leadership Grants to Libraries, while also providing level funding for Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL). The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee approved the bill just two days ago with no amendments or controversial policy riders.

The Grants to States program, which the President’s budget proposed cutting by $950,000, will instead be increased in the Senate bill by $314,000, raising its total funding to $156.1 million for FY2017. That reflects an increase of over $1.25 million from the President’s request. National Leadership Grants will also receive a $314,000 increase, bringing its total to $13.4 million. Overall, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will receive a $1 million increase to $231 million for FY2017.

Innovative Approaches to Literacy, just authorized in last year’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), will receive level funding in the Senate bill of $27 million for FY2017. One half of IAL funding is reserved for school library grants with the remaining reserved for non-profits.

ALA acknowledges the leadership of Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), and the deep commitment to library funding of many other key Senators, including Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS), Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO), Subcommittee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). ALA members from Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Rhode Island, Washington are urged to send messages of thanks to these Senate offices.

The House Appropriations Committee has not yet announced a timetable for moving its Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies FY2017 funding bill. Despite the “no drama” Senate Subcommittee’s markup earlier this week, the overall Appropriations outlook remains very much in doubt. Few Washington insiders are expecting all 12 appropriations bills to pass the House and Senate. Rather, many are expecting one or more “Continuing Resolutions” to keep the government open beyond the October 1 start of the Fiscal Year. A messy “omnibus” spending package providing funding for numerous agencies also is expected to be considered later this year. A government shutdown, however, is not anticipated.

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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.


  1. Mary Mayhew Mary Mayhew

    What does this new funding mean exactly for California students? Our children have spent almost their entire school experience without a school library or staffed librarian. When I was reading to a class recently and those students didn’t even know what a librarian was. It is a sad time indeed in education. Please help to turn things around…it is desperately needed!

  2. Thanks for the comment. Your story demonstrates the need to reinvest in school libraries. School libraries receive funding through the IAL program; but as you note, you do not have a school library. With the passage of last year’s Every Student Succeeds Act, school libraries are now authorized to play a bigger role in the school administration. The US Department of Education is currently working on writing the regulations while also working with states to implement the new rules. I would recommend working with your school and local education authorities to ensure they know that libraries are an integral part of the student’s learning. From early literacy, targeted research, closing the digital divide, school libraries are important and now the ESSA recognizes the role libraries play. Schools need to be aware that ESSA now authorizes support of school libraries.

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