The follow dispatch from the ALA explains how the President’s new budget address education. While the budget for education will not be frozen, school libraries specifically have not bee addressed. This is worrisome as schools face huge budget cuts into the next academic year. Traditionally, school administrators have been told that one area they can cute funds and affect student performance is in the school library and I know of a few districts that are considering eliminating all professional school librarians next year. This may have worked in the 20th century where librarians provided repositories of books in hushed settings, but today’s library media center is critical in developing information literacy skills, true musts for success beyond high school. Next time you visit a school, be sure to stop by the media center and see what’s going on!
WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama today released his FY2011 Budget Proposal to Congress, calling for a freeze to federal library funding under the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), the primary source of federal funding for libraries.
Under the President’s plan, LSTA would be level-funded at $214 million.
As Americans deal with the weakened economy, they are using their libraries more than ever before, visiting them over 119 million times each month. American Library Association (ALA) President Camila Alire said freezing federal funding for libraries at this time of increased demand will hinder libraries from serving job-seekers, who are flocking to the library for help with online job searching and applications, resume writing, computer classes and much more.
“During this time of hoped-for economic recovery, public libraries are one of the greatest tools our nation has, and a lack of federal support jeopardizes this critical institution,” Alire said.
“President Obama often speaks about helping America get back to work, and libraries are critical access points to information and resources that are helping job-seekers every day. Unfortunately, countless libraries in our country are suffering from state budget cuts that have resulted in staff loss, reduced hours, or even closures. Many libraries have managed to efficiently use what little resources they have, but they are hanging on by a thread.
Federal funding may be a small percentage of the funding America’s libraries receive, but it is critical. The ALA calls on Congress to support America’s libraries by not only restoring the funding lost to libraries in the President’s budget proposal but by increasing the funding, which is desperately needed.”
The President’s budget also included a $400 billion investment into education but did not include specific funds for school libraries. Alire said the federal government should invest in school libraries to ensure every student graduates from high school with 21st century skills.
“It is alarming that the President did not recognize the value of school libraries in today’s schools and include them in this effort to improve education,” Alire said.
“Research repeatedly shows that a well-funded and fully staffed school library program with a state-licensed school librarian is an integral component of a student’s education.”