ALA Executive Board affirms support for libraries, urges members to ‘stand strong’
For Immediate Release
Assistant Director, Communications
Public Policy and Advocacy
In this time of unrest and uncertainty, the Executive Board of the American Library Association (ALA) affirms our unequivocal support of ALA members, all library workers and the broader library community.
2020 has taken a toll on libraries and library workers. All of us have had to pivot to provide services online, and for many of us, with shrinking resources. Library professionals have shown ourselves to be innovative and forward-thinking. Yet, like everyone, we have been forced to make difficult decisions, both for ourselves and the communities we serve.
Despite the unique difficulties faced in 2020, ALA and the more than 300,000 library workers across America continue to demonstrate the core values of librarianship, which have stood the test of time. America’s libraries have weathered seasons of turmoil and stability. Library professionals have proven their tenacity and emerged with renewed vigor from the most challenging times, economically, socially and politically.
At the national level, recent challenges have served to mobilize the community. For four consecutive years, the White House has proposed eliminating the only dedicated federal funding source for libraries. ALA responded by deepening our commitment to support members’ year-round advocacy. ALA has seen record advocacy engagement. The relationships that library workers have cultivated helped pave the way for increased federal support for libraries.
In a divisive political climate, advocates have not only held our ground, but we have also gained ground on federal funding for libraries. Since 2016, our advocacy has resulted in an $11.8 million increase in funding for the Library Services and Technology Act. In March 2020, ALA worked swiftly with library champions in Congress to secure $50 million for libraries in the CARES Act. While Congress did not come to an agreement on additional COVID relief, scores of lawmakers on Capitol Hill from both parties pledged their support for libraries in writing.
Libraries are nonpartisan, but they are not indifferent. Libraries are one of the few places where people of diverse backgrounds, beliefs, age groups and socio-economic levels can gather. ALA supports the right of every eligible individual to cast their ballot without the threat of intimidation or reprisal and has provided resources to support libraries’ efforts to engage voters and foster ongoing civic dialogue.
Regardless the outcome of elections on November 3, hundreds of newly elected local, state, and federal officials will be sworn in January 2021. The role they play in determining support for America’s libraries – academic, public, school, government and special libraries – cannot be overemphasized.
ALA remains a steadfast advocate for libraries and library workers. The Executive Board urges ALA members to stand strong. The core values of librarianship transcend the vicissitudes of politics and will remain our polestar as we continue to advocate for ourselves and our communities from a position of strength and moral courage.