Organizations Rally Library Advocates—Again—To Oppose Cuts in Proposed Federal Budget

For the fourth year in a row, the proposed federal budget calls for defunding IMLS and makes cuts to education spending as well. Library advocates and educators are being asked once again to speak out to protect the funding.

Library advocates are activated and calling for allies again after the Trump administration released its proposed federal budget for 2021.

For the fourth year in a row, the budget calls for the closing of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), to be effective October 1, 2020. It also asks for $58 million over two years to end the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Each of the last three years, Congress has instead continued to fund IMLS, but library advocates are not letting the past success leave them complacent.

The American Libraries Association released a statement that read, in part, “ALA takes the White House proposal seriously. After three years of consistent pushback from library advocates and Congress itself, the administration still has not gotten the message: eliminating federal funding for libraries is to forego opportunities to serve veterans, upskill underemployed Americans, start and grow small businesses, teach our kids to read and give greater access to people with print disabilities in our communities.”

The organization is once again calling upon its members and allies to press legislators to continue to fund libraries.

"ALA will continue our strategic approach to advocacy, rallying the growing number of library advocates to take action at each step of the appropriations process and to cultivate ongoing relationships with decision makers," the statement continued. "When it comes to demonstrating the value of libraries, advocates have more stories to share in 2020. By promoting a complete count in the 2020 Census, libraries are ensuring that appropriate federal resources are getting to local communities. By hosting town hall meetings and facilitating voter registration, libraries are encouraging civic engagement.

"ALA encourages everyone—library workers and library lovers alike—to email their members of Congress today and urge them to protect library funding in FY 2021. Visit http://www.ala.org/advocacy/contact-congress, and follow the conversation at #FundLibraries."

EveryLibrary, a national nonprofit political action committee dedicated to library advocacy, also released a statement in opposition to the budget.

“As the primary source of federal funding for museums and libraries, IMLS invests in communities of all sizes, from rural to urban, in every U.S. state and territory. IMLS ensures public library services for all Americans, helps preserve the heritage of our nation, and provides critical funding for literacy and workforce development programs.”

In addition, the FY 2021 budget calls for a $5.6 billion—or nearly eight percent decrease in Department of Education (DOE) spending. The major policy initiative—and biggest funding cut—calls for consolidating 29 programs into one $19.4 billion block grant that is $4.8 billion less than the funding currently allocated for those programs.

Decisions would be made by individual states on how to allocate the money that was once specifically earmarked to individually support programs.

The proposed block grant “would give states and school districts the flexibility” to better meet the needs of their students and communities, according to a DOE budget summary. The formula to distribute funding would be the same as that currently used to award Title I money.

The budget also called for an increase special education grants to states and state grants for career and technical education.

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