In a press release issued February 10, 2020, the American Library Association is once again requesting their supporters to go to the mattresses and fight against the proposed fiscal budget for 2021 that would eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Threatening to lose their funding is nothing new under the present administration. In fact, this marks the 4th year in a row that the ALA has had to fight to keep their funding.
The elimination of the IMLS would substantially decrease funding to libraries and library programs. As stated by ALA President Wanda Brown in the press release, “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.”
Of course, most of this news tends to be brushed aside in favor of promoting another “Red Scare” or observing how many Diet Coke’s President Trump drinks.
There are, as with any presidential administrations, room for serious criticism and this is one of them. This isn’t “Orange Man Bad” rhetoric, either. This is a harsh criticism regarding a budget proposal that will essentially do away with a program that has done a lot to help individuals. Are libraries perfect? Simply put: no. I believe that most libraries function on a lousy business model and have no idea how to be self-sufficient to stay afloat. I am hopeful that perhaps this current administration is teaching ALA a lesson and that they can’t be fully dependent on government funding and will adapt to the ongoing changes in technology and the economy.
Nonetheless, libraries need your help and the ALA is asking library workers and library lovers to “email their members of Congress today and urge them to protect library funding in FY 2021” by visiting http://www.ala.org/advocacy/contact-congress, and following the conversation at #FundLibraries.