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On Thursday, March 16th the White House released a budget that includes the elimination of the Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS), the only federal agency charged with providing support and funding to our country’s libraries and museums. If IMLS is eliminated, libraries nationwide will suffer, causing financial devastation to institutions that have already been cut to the bone. As librarians, library students, library professionals, library users, and library supporters, the thought of this happening is abhorrent. We all know only too well the vital services that libraries provide to individual users and to the communities in which they exist.
While the situation is grim, all hope is not lost. Our community is made up of some of the most dedicated and enthusiastic individuals anywhere. I encourage you all to keep the faith and to work towards a positive outcome for this situation. This is the time for us to come together to protect libraries and to share the importance of our work with others who might not understand just how essential our contributions are. Please know that the FLA Office is monitoring the situation and will keep you updated on any new developments. In the meantime, I am including some suggestions from a variety of sources to help get you started.
Don’t know much about IMLS? Here’s a quick overview: through IMLS, every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. territories receive funding to support state libraries and museums. In FY14 the total funding IMLS distributed to states and territories was $154,800,000. In addition, IMLS offers competitive grant opportunities that individual libraries and museums can apply for. In FY14 IMLS awarded 594 grants (from 1,299 applications) totaling more than $54,700,000. In 2016, Florida received more than $8.2 million from IMLS, allowing for the funding of a variety of projects essential to education and literacy around the state.
If you come across any opportunities to get involved in the fight to save IMLS, please share them with our community by responding to this email, and by using the hashtag #FLASavesIMLS.
In outrage, hope, and solidarity,