Tuesday, March 28, 2017

#SaveIMLS - Please!

So. Things are changing quickly these days - its hard to keep up. But I want to highlight one particular potential change that I see as very dangerous to institutions that I think really matter - the libraries, museums, research, and services funded by the Institute for Museum & Library Services (IMLS) via the Library Services and Technology Act. The president's budget defunds the IMLS, along with the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities - although the House and Senate budget process is the one that really matters, this sends a very dangerous signal.

I'm an academic librarian and a library user from way, way back (I distinctly recall getting in trouble when I was about ten for checking out the same book - the absolutely charming and wonderful The Horse without a Head - from both the air force base library and our church library, but I digress...). But in recent years, I have learned a lot about what the IMLS does that I didn't know. Much of this is due to my involvement with the Library Council of Washington, (full disclosure - I represent four-year academic libraries on LCW) which is " composed of members representative of the library community who act as a catalyst for dealing successfully with library-related issues of statewide concern, and advise the State Librarian and the Office of the Secretary of State on statewide library issues and the expenditure of federal funds."So...IMLS provides resources to the Washington State Library through its Grants to States program and through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program. Here is just some of what it does:

Are you a geneaolgist, or someone who does historical research or just wants to learn more about your community? The Washington State Library uses IMLS funds to run the Washington Rural Heritage program

Do you have a child who uses online homework help? The Washington State Library uses IMLS/LSTA funds to run the Ask WA program, which provides statewide online reference service

Do you have a computer with Internet access at home? If you don't or if you do, you may use the Internet at public libraries and K-12 schools. Their Internet connections are subsidized by the federal E-Rate Program, which The Washington State Library uses IMLS/LSTA funds to assist libraries in working with this complicated program.

Do you have a member of your family or a friend serving time in the Washington State prison system? The Washington State Library uses IMLS/LSTA funds to fund library workers and materials for prison libraries.

Do you have a family member or friend who is blind? The Washington State Library uses IMLS /LSTAfunds to help run the Washington Talking Books & Braille Library.

Do you know someone looking for a job? The Washington State Library uses IMLS/LSTA funds for workforce development programs in libraries to support Washington State's Talent and Prosperity for All (TAP) program.

There is so much more - digital literacy programs, storytime programs, library worker professional development programs, and grants... The point is, IMLS/LSTA funding for Washington State provides immense benefits and services to people all over the state. Without those funds, these programs will disappear - hurting the most vulnerable populations the most, but really all of us. And this is one state, out of 50.

I urge you to learn more about the IMLS/LSTA, and to advocate for it's continued funding. Some resources include:

  • Learn more about Washington State library programs supported by federal funds at teh Library Council of Washington website: https://www.sos.wa.gov/library/libraries/dev/council/ If you are not from Washington State, every state has some sort of advisory group - I'm looking for a list, but a web serach of your state and lsta advisory ought to do the trick.
  • Learn more about this issue and what you can do at saveilms.org (This takes you to library advocacy organization EveryLibrary)
  • ** Time SensitiveAsk your members of congress to sign "Dear Appropriator" letters supporting Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program.
  • Lobby your members of congress, and your state legislators, to support federal library and museum funding (and the NEH and NEA too!)
  • Take a look at the #SaveIMLS hashtag on Twitter
  • Use your library! Tell your friends!