It's April 1, But Rep. Paul Ryan's Dismissal of IMLS is No Joke

From the ALA Press office:

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a new budget released today from Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), the House Budget Committee Chairman denounces the critical role that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) plays in supporting civic engagement, literacy and lifelong learning in more than 123,000 libraries nationwide. Rep. Ryan recommends that the federal government not have a role in libraries and that Congress shift the federal agency’s responsibilities to the private sector in his 2015 fiscal year budget resolution.

Today, American Library Association (ALA) President Barbara Stripling released the following statement in response to Rep. Ryan’s budget (pdf):

“We were shocked to learn that Representative Paul Ryan recommended eliminating the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the agency that administers the primary source of federal funding to libraries. Libraries depend on the support they receive from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to help patrons learn new skills, find job opportunities and access reading materials that they otherwise could not afford. More than $180 million has been allocated to the Institute for Museum and Library Services through September 2014 to help libraries make information available to the citizens they serve.

In Rep. Ryan’s own state of Wisconsin, more than 65 percent of libraries report that they are the only free access to Internet in their communities. Just blocks from Rep. Ryan’s Wisconsin office, more than 716,000 visitors used the Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, Wisconsin to access library computers and research databases, check out books and receive job training in 2013. The Institute of Museum and Library Services administered more than $2.8 million in the 2014 fiscal year to help Wisconsin libraries prepare young students for school and provide lifelong learning opportunities for all Wisconsin residents. For example, the state reported that more than 215,000 children participated in summer reading programs at Wisconsin public libraries.

Furthermore, the Institute has been a vital component in facilitating collaboration between federal agencies that relate to library services, such as the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Communication Commission and the Government Printing Office, among others. For example, the Institute has been instrumental in working with the U.S. Department of Labor so that libraries can be considered additional One-Stop partners for job-seekers.

Library funding support from the Institute for Museum and Library Services wields large returns in the form of literate and civically engaged communities. We hope that Congress will support the important role that the Institute for Museum and Library Services plays in supporting educated communities by rejecting the House Budget resolution.”

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