Through the Corporate Committee for Library Investment, organizations and businesses are banding together to help protect and secure federal funding for America’s libraries.
Under the leadership of the American Library Association (ALA) and educational publishing company Gale, trade organizations, publishers, and other business have created the Corporate Committee for Library Investment to promote the value of American libraries.
Specifically, CCLI is calling on Congress to support funding of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services in the FY2018 federal budget, as well as the reauthorization of the Museum and Library Services Act.
“In addition to the many ways we serve the American public, libraries mean business, and members of the Corporate Committee for Library Investment can tell that story with unparalleled resources and credibility,” ALA President Julie Todaro said in a press release. “ALA could not be more proud to work with them to assure that law and policy makers fully understand American libraries’ tremendous value to communities and economies in every corner of the country.”
CCLI has sent a letter to Congress asking senators to sign two “Dear Appropriator” Letters from ALA, specifically focused on LSTA—which provides state library funding grants—and IAL, which helps schools and nonprofits purchase educational materials for needy children. Last month, one third of the House signed similar letters supporting these programs. The letter to Congress is still open for other businesses and organizations to sign.
“Library funding may be among the very best yielding and most leverageable investment that Congress makes across the entire federal budget,” the letter reads. “Libraries are thus very much critical national infrastructure: ubiquitous, indispensable, and economically essential.”
CCLI contends that libraries play an essential role in the U.S. economy by not only creating jobs but also by building strong, educated workforces. In addition, libraries provide necessary services to the general public like free internet access, help completing government forms, computer literacy programs, and job search support.
“The bottom line, literally and figuratively, is that the health of our businesses, our workers, and all of our communities is inextricably linked to the health of libraries and their continued federal funding,” the letter continues.
This advocacy effort comes in the face of budget proposals that would strip libraries of most of their federal funding, including President Trump’s proposal to completely eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which administers library funding.
“Libraries are critical infrastructure in the knowledge economy,” Gale Senior Vice President and General Manager Paul Gazzolo said in a statement. “Gale supports the Institute of Museum and Library Services and LSTA funding in order to protect private sector jobs and ensure millions of Americans can continue to rely on their state, public, school, and university libraries for the information they need to succeed at school, work, and life.”