American Library Association applauds Presidential proposal to fund librarian recruitment, training

Contact: Larra Clark


ALA News Release

For Immediate Release

January 9, 2002

American Library Association applauds Presidential proposal to fund librarian recruitment, training

Speaking at the Topeka Public Library Gala today, First Lady Laura Bush announced that President Bush's FY2003 budget will include a proposal for $10 million to recruit and train library professionals.

"Libraries are at the heart of the American community and have been since 1638, when a man named John Harvard donated money and books to create one of our nation's first libraries at a Cambridge, Mass., university," Mrs. Bush said. "More than ever, we have begun to realize and fully appreciate that our public libraries are the only institutions that offer the whole of our society's information resources without bias. I'm proud of the President's support of librarians."

The President's initiative would provide scholarships to graduate students in library and information science, support distance learning technology for training programs in underserved areas, and recruit librarians with diverse language skills. The initiative will be managed by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent federal agency that fosters leadership, innovation and a lifetime of learning by supporting the nation's museums and libraries.

"We congratulate President Bush for being proactive in the approaching recruitment crisis in America's libraries," said American Library Association (ALA) President John W. Berry. "By offering a program to address the growing shortage of librarians, his Administration helps ensure there will be librarians in every community of this country helping Americans participate in the benefits of the 21st century through high-quality library services."

Based on Census data, more than one-quarter of all librarians with master's degrees will reach the age of 65 before 2009. This data does not take into account early retirement, death or other reasons for leaving the profession before the age of 65. According to the 2000 Monthly Labor Review, 57 percent of professional librarians were age 45 or older in 1998. Since 1998, the ALA's Job Placement Center has posted substantially more job openings than job seekers. At the association's 2001 Midwinter Meeting in Washington, D.C., there were 831 openings compared to 260 job seekers. In 1997, there were 360 openings for 436 seekers.

"We applaud the Bush Administration for their farsighted efforts on the behalf of children and families in this country," said ALA's Washington Office Director Emily Sheketoff. "This new program will begin getting librarians back into the school and public libraries where they can help their communities the most."

The ALA estimates there are about 140,460 librarians working in public, school, academic and special libraries nationwide. At 16,090, there are more public libraries in the United States than McDonalds.

"There's nothing quite like a trip to the library," Mrs. Bush said. "Whether you choose a casual stroll down the aisles of books or a speedy trip along the information superhighway, libraries will allow you to journey as far and as wide as your imagination will go."

The ALA is the voice of America's libraries and the millions of people who depend on them. Its 63,424 members are primarily librarians, but also trustees, publishers and others who support the work of libraries.

For more information on the initiative, contact IMLS at 202-606-8536 or