Federal Funding

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Jeffrey Kratz
Associate Director, Office of Government Relations

What is Federal Funding?

Quite simply, funding is money. Federal funding is the money for libraries that comes from the U.S. Government. The majority of federal library program funds are distributed through the Institute of Museum and Library Services to each state. The Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) is part of the annual Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill.

In addition to lobbying for LSTA funds, the ALA's Washington Office specifically communicates to Congress about the importance of funding federal libraries - like the Library of Congress, the National Agricultural Library, the National Library of Medicine, etc. - as well as programs in the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. We also lobby for increases for adult education and literacy. In addition, we look for opportunities for libraries of all kinds to become involved in education programs like those for early childhood education.

For information on the federal funding process works, visit our Primer on the Budget Resolution and the Legislative Process.

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Why this issue matters to libraries    

Libraries of all kinds need money. The amount of funding that a library receives directly influences the quality of its services. While the majority of funding for libraries comes from state and local sources, federal funding provides critical assistance, giving libraries across the country the financial support they need to serve their communities.

For the past several years, the federal budget has been hard on domestic programs.  Libraries have seen cuts to the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), and many other programs that benefit libraries have been severely cut or in some cases terminated.  We follow these other programs as well, because libraries are just one part of a much bigger picture that includes education, the humanities, the arts, and many other important social functions.

What follows are several programs that ALA supports that have been negatively affected by the federal budget. ALA feel that these programs are important enough for our members to know more about and take an active interest in saving:

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Recent Legislative Background    

April, 2014
Dozens of representatives and senators sent two letters urging support for funding the LSTA to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees [House letter (pdf); Senate letter (pdf)] and the IAL [House letter (pdf); Senate letter (pdf)]. In the Senate the LSTA letter received 35 signatures and IAL letter received 29 signatures. In the House the LSTA letter received 62 signatures and the IAL letter received 127.

View (pdf) our list of signees to see if your Senator or Representative signed these letters.

March 4, 2014
President Obama sent his FY’2015 budget request to Congress. In that proposed budget the President ask for a $2 million cut for LSTA funding the program at $180.9 million.  This big hit came to the state program, with slight increases to the set asides for the Native Americans and Hawaiians and the National Leadership grants.

President Obama did not make a request for IAL.

View our funding chart (pdf) for further federal programs that impact libraries.

January 17, 2014
President Obama approved a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that will fund the federal government for FY 2014 (until September 30, 2014). This legislation partially restores funding to the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) that were dramatically cut in FY 2013 under sequestration.

The total amount appropriated for LSTA increased from $175,044,000 in FY 2013, to $180,909,000 for FY 2014. The grants to states programs increased from $150 million to $154,848,000; National Leadership grants increased from $11,377,000 to $12,200,000; Laura Bush 21st-century Librarian grants remained at $10 million and the Native American and Hawaiian Library Services increased from $3,667,000 to $3,861,000.

In the Department of Education, Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL), a completive grant which half of the funds must go to low income school libraries, was appropriated at $25 million in FY 2014. This is a -$2.4 million cut from FY 2013.

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