Washington Hotline

Kevin Maher is deputy director of government relations at ALA’s Washington Office, email: kmaher@alawash.org

Federal funding for libraries increases in FY 2020 and the 2020 Census is underway

Congressional appropriators needed overtime to complete the FY 2020 budget, but the result was good news for libraries: a $10 million increase for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), including $6.2 million for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) – the largest increase in LSTA funding in 12 years. The final federal spending bill also includes increases for other library and higher education programs, including the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, Library of Congress, National Library of Medicine, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and programs for students and institutions of higher education.

Congress appropriated $252 million for IMLS, including $6.2 million increase dedicated to LSTA. Highlights from the $195.4 million for LSTA ($189.3 million in FY19) include:

  • $166.8 million for LSTA Grants to States ($160.8 million in FY19),
  • $10 million for LSTA Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Grants ($10 million in FY19), and
  • $13.4 million for LSTA National Leadership for Libraries ($13.4 million in FY19).

Overall education funding for the Department of Education was increased by $1.3 billion, raising the department’s total budget to $72.8 billion. Higher-education, library-eligible, programs receiving increases include:

  • $1.09 billion for federal TRIO programs ($1.06 million in FY19),
  • $1.18 billion for federal work-study ($1.13 billion in FY19), and
  • $84 million for Strengthening HBCUs ($72 million in FY19).

Level funding in the current fiscal environment is considered a win. Increased funding is a major accomplishment. Without a doubt, the reason why library funding has steadily grown over the past three years is the active commitment of library advocates. In 2019, every member of Congress heard from ALA and our advocates about the importance of libraries and their impact in communities across the country. In addition, new advocates from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C., joined the #FundLibraries campaign.

As advocates continue to demonstrate the impact libraries have on our communities, libraries are in a stronger position than ever to start the FY 2021 budget cycle. However, none of these gains have come swiftly or easily, and we do not expect any different as the FY 2021 appropriations process begins.

If you want to be part of next year’s success, sign up to be an ALA advocate and register to participate in ALA’s 45th National Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C., on May 4-5, 2020.

2020 Census

As reported in this column last month, academic libraries are well-positioned on campuses to generate awareness about the 2020 Census. ALA just released a tip sheet with information and best practices for ensuring a complete count of college students, a group that historically has been disproportionately undercounted in the decennial Census.

Visit ala.org/census, to learn more about libraries and the 2020 Census, read a series of tip sheets and the Libraries’ Guide to the 2020 Census, download graphics, and view recorded webinars.

Copyright American Library Association

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