Library Funding

[last update 30 September 2003]


ALA is concerned about funding on the local, state and national level, since public and school libraries are funded through a combination of those funds.  Academic libraries connected with state institutions also suffer when recession occurs, and all libraries are impacted by increasing costs for salaries, rent, and cost of library materials.  Any local, state or federal action that curtails equity of access or that creates increased cost for service impacts the public that libraries serve.

KEY ACTION/PRIORITY AREAS: Legislation/Funding, Equity of Access
RELATED ISSUES: Advocacy for Libraries, Digital Divide, Fees for Service, Library Outreach, Outsourcing & Privatization


Policy 1.3 - ALA will promote legislation at all levels that will strengthen library and information services.  Means will be developed for facilitating the effective competition of libraries for public funds as well as for funds from the private sector.


  • Since 2002, states have suffered grave budget difficulties due to continuing recession and the fact that most states have balanced budget requirements.  Congress appropriated funds that spent the budget surplus and passed tax cutting legislation that curtailed the tax receipts.  Expenditures on defense and war-related expenses for Afghanistan and Iraq have deepened the deficit.  Next year will be an election year, and the struggling economy, continuing service cuts in states, and a deepening deficit on the national level will have an impact on the FY2005 budget.  Library supporters will have to increase efforts on local, state and national levels to protect funding.


  • ALA Washington Office/Committee on Legislation
  • ALA Public Information Office/Public Awareness Committee
  • ALTA and other ALA Divisions


  • ALA Library Champions
  • Friends of Libraries USA (FOLUSA)
  • ALA Chapters
  • Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA)
  • Various Washington-based coalitions


  • 1909 - ALA formed the Committee on Federal and State Relations
  • 1911 - The ALA Committee on Federal and State Relations began working on postal rates for libraries.
  • 1925 - The ALA Committee on Library Extension was established, to work toward extension of library services to unserved areas in the U.S.
  • 1934 - The ALA Federal Relations Committee (now Committee on Legislation) was established.
  • 1938 - ALA supported establishment of the U.S. Office of Education and the Library Service Branch within the Office.  The Library Services Division was formed in 1938.
  • 1939 - Federal Aid for Libraries was published, urging federal support for libraries.
  • 1944-ALA approved a Library Development Fund, to raise money from ALA membership for temporary support of an ALA Washington Office. The Fund would support the ALA Washington Office until 1949.
  • 1945-46 -- ALA Washington Office was established.
  • 1946 -- The Public Library Services Demonstration Bill was proposed. (Defeated 1950)
  • 1948 - ALA Postwar Planning Committee produced A National Plan for Public Library Service.
  • 1951 - The Library Service Bill was introduced.  (Passed 1956)
  • 1956 - The Library Services Act was signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on June 19; between 1957 and
  • 1964, this act extended library service to more than 40 million people living in areas with less than 10,000 population.
  • 1963 - ALA Council supported President John F. Kennedy's proposed National Education Improvement Act; the Library Services and Construction Act title of the National Education Improvement Act was the first bill considered when the Senate resumed deliberations on November 26, 1963, following Kennedy's assassination.
  • 1964 - President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Library Services and Construction Act.  LSCA was reauthorized into the 1990s.
  • 1965 - The Higher Education Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act were passed.  Title II of ESEA would pour $100M into the acquisition of books and audiovisual materials for school libraries during its first year.
  • 1966 - President Lyndon B. Johnson established the President's Committee on Libraries, along with a National Advisory Commission on Libraries to assist it.
  • 1970 - President Richard M. Nixon established the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science.
  • 1975 - ALA committed to cooperation with NCLIS in support of Toward a National Program for Library and Information Services: Goals for Action.
  • 1995-ALA Council adopted "Vision ALA Goal 2000 - Intellectual Participation" as a five-year initiative.  It envisioned that ALA would be identified as the voice for "intellectual participation."  A major outcome was expansion of the ALA Washington Office, including establishment of the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy.
  • 1996 - The Library Services and Technology Act (replacing LSCA) was passed, within the Museum and Library Services Act, which increased focus on information access through technology and on information empowerment through special services.  Library programs were moved from the Department of Education to the new Institute of Museum and Library Services.
  • 1996 - As part of the implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Universal Service Program for Schools and Libraries (the "e-rate" program) was established; implementation was supported by ALA, working with the Education and Library Networks Coalition (EdLINC) and others.
  • 2000 - The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was signed into law on December 21, to go into effect on April 20, 2001, placing restrictions on use of funding available through the Library Services and Technology Act, Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the Universal Service discount program ("e-rate"), in the form of requirements that schools and libraries have acceptable use policies and technology to block certain materials from being accessed on the Internet.
  • 2001 - No Child Left Behind legislation included library provisions (Literacy Through School Libraries).
  • 2003 - The Museum and Library Services Act , H.R. 13, (reauthorization of the Library Services and Technology Act - LSTA) was signed by the President on September 25 (Public Law 108-81).  LSTA is reauthorized until FY2009.  Funding for FY2004 is still incomplete, and it is unclear if funding will be toward the old or new law.  The new law would authorize library programs at $232 million and, if funded at that level, would adjust the funding formula (first established in 1971) to increase the base amount for all states and hold harmless large states.  The new formula change will only occur if the funding level rises to a level to allow the change.
  • 2003 - The House and Senate versions of the Workforce Investment Act reauthorization are still in process.  The bill contains reauthorization of the Adult Education and Literacy Act.  Libraries that host literacy programs or provide direct literacy services would have an interest.
  • 2003 - Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act will continue into 2004, since Congress is passing this (large) act in a series of smaller bills. Academic libraries that use student workers and apply for grants from Title VI would have an interest in this legislation.


Issue Summaries

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