ALA President responds to House proposal to eliminate IMLS

For Immediate Release
Wed, 03/25/2015


Jazzy Wright
Press Officer
ALA Washington Office

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The budget resolution released this week by the U.S. House Budget Committee proposes to eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the agency that administers federal funding support for more than 123,000 libraries in virtually every community in the nation. American Library Association (ALA) President Courtney Young today released the following statement in response:

"We are shocked and appalled that the U.S. House Budget Committee would call for the elimination of federal support for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the agency that administers federal funding to libraries. Our nation’s public libraries receive more than 1.5 billion in-person visitors(pdf) each year from students, parents, job-seekers and seniors alike. Through grant-making and federal funding, IMLS aids libraries in supporting lifelong learning and equitable access for all. Since its founding, IMLS has provided invaluable leadership and expert oversight to libraries and supported libraries in providing dynamic services to their patrons, such as workforce training, maker spaces, coding classes and entrepreneurship resources.

"ALA calls on every member of the Budget Committee, and of Congress, to recognize the enormous benefits that IMLS creates for libraries and constituents in their own communities. In Chairman Tom Price’s (R-GA) own district, for example, IMLS helped establish and now helps fund a hugely efficient and successful statewide library catalog that gives millions of Georgians and every library in the state access to everything in every other library’s collection. The State Librarian of Georgia estimates that replacing this statewide PINES network with individual systems would cost over $100 million over the next ten years alone.

"Even closer to home for Mr. Price, nearly 100,000 individual and business library users in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District rely on their local libraries for access to summer reading programs, online research databases and cutting-edge technology tools and resources. And over 35,000 blind and physically handicapped residents of his District depend on an IMLS-funded program called the Georgia Libraries for Accessible Statewide Services to access information from library collections, assistive technology and more.

"In no small measure, federal funds administered by IMLS also have helped leverage other federal investments in the programs of many other agencies. Libraries, for example, are front-line partners with the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and the Government Publishing Office in affording millions of Americans access to data critical to everything from home schooling, to job searching and retraining, children’s health and small business-building support.

"The programs that IMLS incentivizes and expertly oversees—with among the very best efficiency records in the federal government—are literal engines of our economy at every level. We hope that Congress and President Barack Obama will support the important role that the Institute of Museum and Library Services plays in educating and supporting 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 55,000 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.