WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a new budget released today from Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), the House Budget Committee Chairman denounces the critical role that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) plays in supporting civic engagement, literacy and lifelong learning in more than 123,000 libraries nationwide. Rep. Ryan recommends that the federal government not have a role in libraries and that Congress shift the federal agency’s responsibilities to the private sector in his 2015 fiscal year budget resolution.
Today, American Library Association (ALA) President Barbara Stripling released the following statement in response to Rep. Ryan’s budget (pdf):
“We were shocked to learn that Representative Paul Ryan recommended eliminating IMLS, the agency that promotes library services for the American public. We are disappointed by the House Budget Committee’s outright dismissal of IMLS, the agency that administers the primary source of federal funding to libraries. Libraries depend on the support they receive from IMLS to help patrons learn new skills, find job opportunities and access reading materials that they otherwise could not afford. More than $180 million has been appropriated to the Institute for Museum and Library Services through September 2014 to help libraries make information and services available to the citizens they serve.
In Rep. Ryan’s own state of Wisconsin, more than 65 percent of libraries report that they are the only free access point to Internet in their communities. Just a few blocks from Rep. Ryan’s Wisconsin office, more than 716,000 visitors used the Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, Wisconsin to access library computers and research databases, check out books and receive job training in 2013. The Institute of Museum and Library Services administered more than $2.8 million in the 2014 fiscal year to help Wisconsin libraries prepare young students for school and provide lifelong learning opportunities for all Wisconsin residents. For example, the state reported that more than 215,000 children participated in summer reading programs at Wisconsin public libraries.
IMLS provides invaluable professional development opportunities to librarians across the country. As the director of school library programs for the New York City Department of Education, I witnessed the ways in which the IMLS-supported programs helped young students learn and discover new information. In recent years, IMLS provided professional training for New York City school librarians, who used their training they received to change the lives of children with limited access to books and technology.
Furthermore, the Institute has been a vital component in facilitating collaboration between federal agencies that relate to library services, such as the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Communication Commission and the Government Printing Office, among others. For example, the Institute has been instrumental in working with the U.S. Department of Labor so that libraries can be considered additional One-Stop partners for job-seekers.
Library funding support from the Institute for Museum and Library Services wields large returns in the form of literate and civically engaged communities. We hope that Congress will support the important role that the Institute for Museum and Library Services plays in supporting educated communities by rejecting the House Budget resolution.”
About the American Library Association
The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 57,000 members in academic, public, school, government, and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.