Support Your Local Libraries

8 May

Tuesday is National Library Legislative Day. Sponsored by the American Library Association, this is a day for librarians and library supporters to contact or visit their members of Congress to talk about the value of libraries.

Libraries are ever more essential in these tough economic times. People are flocking to our nation’s libraries for job and career information, small business research and e-government services as well as support for formal and informal education and lifelong learning. Usage is up everywhere as people try to get back to work. Families borrow more books, DVDs and other materials. Students of all ages seek digital literacy skills. Teachers and administrators recognize how libraries lead to improved student performance. Communities recognize that their libraries are the primary place – and often the only place in rural areas – to find online materials and databases with no-fee access to the Internet.

The federal role in library development and funding is targeted and unique. For example, state library agencies utilize funding from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), to build shared services and collaborations that save funding while improving public services. The need for school libraries is demonstrated by the research showing that students perform better in schools with an effective school library program. Transparency and open government are best served when open access policies assure a strong Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) in the Government Printing Office (GPO) and public access to federally funded research reports.

Facing tough budget decisions, Congress should make equitable decisions and not cut library programs twice as much as other education and cultural programs. The people using public, school and academic libraries are using libraries more than ever – libraries that are also filling the gaps made when other agencies and services are cut.

In these tough budgetary times, Congress has to make hard choices about what services to fund. Libraries are more important than ever. If you value your public, school, and academic libraries, please take a moment and contact your Representative and Senators this week.

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