ALA urges Congress to increase federal support to America's libraries before Senate committee

Contact: Frank DiFulvio


For Immediate Release

April 10, 2002

ALA urges Congress to increase federal support to America's libraries before Senate committee

David Macksam, director of the Cranston Public Library in Cranston, R.I., home of longtime friend and supporter of U.S. libraries, Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), asked the Committee to reauthorize the Library and Services Technology Act (LSTA) at $500 million - to address the growing needs of one of America's most trusted and effective community institutions, our nation's libraries.

"An increased authorization level for LSTA to $500 million will provide for more equity in allocating funds across the nation, and ensure that all libraries have enough resources to provide library users access to successful programs in their communities," said Emily Sheketoff, director of the American Library Association's (ALA) Washington Office. "This increase also would double the minimum allotment to the states to $680,000 - which has not changed since 1971. Limited funding has restricted smaller states from increasing services for those most in need for nearly three decades."

LSTA is the only federal program exclusively created for libraries, and is administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The law's definition of a library includes institutions of all types and sizes, such as public, academic, research, school, state, and even digital libraries. The law includes grants for Native American and Native Hawaiian library services, as well as National Leadership grants aimed at education and training, research and demonstration projects, the preservation of library materials, and model projects between libraries and museums.

"Today's library is not simply a place where books are read and borrowed. It is a place where a love for reading is born and renewed again and again, and where information is sought and discovered," said Senator Jack Reed (RI) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. "American libraries also coordinate and provide comprehensive services to meet the needs of their communities and people of all ages - including providing Internet access, family literacy classes, homework help, mentoring programs, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, job training and writing workshops."

LSTA funding for libraries makes a difference in communities nationwide:

  • Families and Children: Studies indicate that reading to children, even as infants, dramatically improves their language skills and educational development, and children who attend schools with well-equipped libraries perform better on standardized tests.
  • Lifelong Learning: Throughout our lives, we can always look to our community library to provide us with the resources we need to enrich our lives during a time of social and personal change. That is why libraries tailor their services to provide critical support for infants, people with special needs and senior citizens. Libraries are proud of our inclusive disposition and intergenerational appeal.
  • Economic Development and Job Training: Libraries provide a lifeline to jobs and economic security for small businesses, new immigrants, and underserved populations - through literacy, job search skills, training and business development strategies.
  • Assisting People with Disabilities: Libraries provide people with disabilities specialized materials and resources that are nearly unattainable anywhere else. For example, some libraries offer talking books for the sight impaired, and provide special computer training for people with disabilities.
  • Serving Diverse Communities: Libraries offer a myriad of culturally sensitive resources that reflect the diverse mosaic of the American family. Whether you are an amateur genealogist, a high school student doing a research project, a scientist or an academic research professional, the library has updated and culturally diverse resources for all.
  • Providing Digital Opportunity: Libraries are the number one place to access the Internet for people without computers at home. Libraries offer equal access to on-line information, and provide a full range of technology-related opportunities, including computer instructional training and how to use the Internet.
  • Rural Development: Installing computers in libraries across rural America is enabling people who live in those communities to access informational material on the Internet, often for the first time in their lives.
  • Literacy Assistance: Libraries work with a wide range of community organizations, such as daycare centers, schools, museums, detentions centers and hospitals to provide literacy programs to our patrons. Working in urban and rural communities, libraries reach out to those who need help, including children, adult learners, new parents, pre-teens, persons with disabilities, and those who speak English as a second language.