The news has been awash with reports recently about the value of libraries, just in time for lawmakers to vote on funding for all libraries as well as IMLS grants. I’ve had an interesting time reading through some of these reports and thought I would share them here with you.
- School Libraries Affect Test Scores: It’s what we’ve been saying all these years but didn’t have the hard numbers to back up. Unfortunately, it has always been numbers rather than stories that lawmakers have responded to when making funding decisions.
- ALA President Courtney Young responds proposal to eliminate IMLS: It’s becoming an annual fight – Lawmakers propose eliminating the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the ALA (among others) must step in and remind Congress how important the organization is. This year’s argument is framed as such: “‘The programs that IMLS incentivizes and expertly oversees—with among the very best efficiency records in the federal government—are literal engines of our economy at every level.'” With the economy continuing as a hot-button campaign topic, this tact is probably the smartest move.
- Unequal Shelves in D.C. School Libraries Benefit Wealthier Students: Speaking of money, funding inequality is having a major impact on the kinds of services libraries can provide. As this article discusses, schools attended by wealthier students are getting the bulk of the money by far, further widening the educational and financial gap between rich and poor.
- Online Learning and the Digital Divide: As this post discusses, learning will continue to be moved online in the future. What does this have to do with libraries? Well, the digital divide is still immense, meaning that there are still large numbers of people who do not have access to the Internet in their own homes nor laptops to access Wi-Fi in public places. Libraries are an essential lifeline, letting children and college students complete their homework, patrons to apply for jobs, and everyone to file their taxes or apply for veterans’ benefits and much more. In today’s connected world, many people would not survive without the library providing computers and Internet access.
Libraries provide essential services to their community members, which is why I am always flabbergasted that getting funding for them is such an uphill battle. One thing everyone can do is to contact their local legislator to let them know that you support library funding. ALA’s District Dispatch is an easy way to stay abreast of Capitol Hill news that affects libraries and their patrons. You’ll even get notifications when to send notes to Congressman and even easy submission forms for sending notes to your legislator.