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Lynn E. Bradley

Library Funding and the County Fair

Librarians and library supporters will have the benefit of the August recess to call and visit local Congressional offices or see representatives and senators at the county fair. In this tight budget year, it is critical to ask them to support strong funding for library programs.

A conference on the differences between House and Senate bills usually occurs by mid-September. The FY99 Labor-HHS- Education appropriations bill is often finalized by October 1, the end of the fiscal year.

Below are details of the various national library funding streams, as well as funding for major library programs. Please use local examples of how funding for national libraries benefits your constituents. Don’t forget there are federal depository libraries in every state where government information is available to the public.

Messages for Congress

Library of Congress(LOC): 1) Fund the LOC at the requested $397 million for FY99. The LOC provides bibliographic, reference, preservation, and other services and expertise that support and coordinate with other libraries; 2) provide a permanent reauthorization for the Library’s American Folklife Center (S. 1971); and 3) support the Library’s bicentennial plans as a celebration of America’s libraries.

National Agricultural Library (NALFund the NAL at least $2.5 million above the President’s level funding request of $19 million. NAL cooperates with a network of other libraries to provide key materials on which the rural and scientific communities depend. NAL has cut services because it has had to service its collections at 1991 budget levels.

National Education Library(NEL): Fund National Education Library adequately as part of the Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement budget. This key educational resource emphasizes electronic linkages and backup to other libraries and resources in the field of education.

National Library of Medicine(NLM): Fund the National Library of Medicine adequately. The requested level is $174,725,000 for FY99. NLM has recently made its MEDLINE database available at no fee on the Internet. Usage has skyrocketed; public and other libraries find it a health resource very popular with the general public.

National Commission on Libraries and Information Science(NCLIS): Fund NCLIS at the requested level of $1 million. In addition to advising Congress and the President on library and information policy and partnering on library research and statistics, NCLIS serves as the library advisory body to the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Library Statistics and Research:Fund the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) at the requested level of $689.4 million, especially its statistics/research component. OERI’s National Center for Education Statistics, in partnership with NCLIS, conducts surveys and publishes basic data on libraries that is used by libraries, educational institutions, and all levels of government. Department of Education research institutes, such as the one on Postsecondary Education, Libraries, and Lifelong Learning, conduct needed research and disseminate results to improve practice.

National Endowment for the Humanities(NEH): Fund NEH at the requested level of $136 million. Library eligibility and involvement in NEH's public programming, preservation assistance, state-based assistance, and challenge grants helps spread and preserve America’s literary, historic, and social traditions.

Elementary and Secondary Education Programs.Fund adequately ESEA, the Improving America’s Schools Act, and other elementary/secondary education and technology programs. School library media centers and the librarians who staff them are a key part of student achievement efforts through provision of relevant reading materials, curricular support in print, audiovisual, and electronic formats, and the teaching of critical information skills.

Higher Education Act(HEA): Reauthorize and fund the HEA postsecondary education program. Academic libraries as a central part of advanced learning and a key support of academic research benefit from HEA. The college work-study program also provides library work opportunities, the opportunity to learn in-depth information-seeking skills, and potential career possibilities. The international education program assists some academic libraries in acquiring needed international and foreign-language materials.

Next Generation Internet(NGI): Fund NGI at the requested $110 million. Just as the ARPANET and NSFNET and NREN initiatives led to today’s Internet and benefited educational institutions, libraries, and the public, NGI activities will produce leading-edge innovation with broad public benefits, if NGI is focused on applications research as well as bigger “pipes.”

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