Proposed Elimination of Federal Funding for Libraries Threatens Services and Programs for Ohioans
In March 2017, the president proposed a budget for discretionary spending in Federal Fiscal Year 2018. The proposed budget calls for the elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). IMLS administers the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), which provides critically important funding for Ohio’s libraries.
The State Library of Ohio receives about $5 million each year in federal LSTA funds and uses these funds in ways that touch every community across the state. The loss of these funds will eliminate or significantly reduce many of the library programs you, your family, and your neighbors use for school, work, lifelong learning, and leisure. The following list represents just a few of the programs and services that will be eliminated or significantly reduced if this funding is lost.
- eBooks and other digital content. LSTA funds are used to support the Ohio Digital Library, a collaborative effort of 177 Ohio public libraries and the State Library of Ohio, which provides you with free access to eBooks and other downloadable digital content. In 2016, Ohioans downloaded 3,356,255 items through this service.
- Materials for the blind and physically disabled are made available at no cost to approximately 15,000 Ohioans, including 1,294 military veterans and 385 children, through the Ohio Talking Books Program.
- Technology and digital literacy training through the Guiding Ohio Online program in your local public library. Nearly 30,000 Ohioans in rural areas have benefited from this free training.
- Collaborative Summer Library Program. Last summer 399,133 Ohioans enrolled in summer reading programs, and total attendance at Ohio public library events related to summer reading programs was 1,248,836. Many of Ohio’s public libraries rely on the Collaborative Summer Library Program for training, support, and materials to assist with making sure Ohio’s children retain and gain essential reading skills during the summer months.
- Access to digital publications and research materials through the Ohio Web Library. This collection of 73 databases is purchased collaboratively using federal LSTA dollars to leverage state funding. All materials in the Ohio Web Library, including Ancestry.com, World Book Early World of Learning, Science Online, Business Source Premiere, Consumer Health Complete, and Consumer Reports, are available to all Ohio libraries, schools, universities, and residents at no cost to them. Every year, thousands of Ohio children and adults use the Ohio Web Library to help with homework, research topics related to work, home, and health, and even research their family trees.
The loss of this critical funding would come at a time when state funding for Ohio’s libraries lacks the stability it needs to ensure that our libraries remain able to innovate, adapt quickly to local needs, and develop programs and services that enable all members of their communities to thrive. To learn more, please visit the State Library’s website (library.ohio.gov) or the American Library Association’s Action Center (cqrcengage.com/ala/appropriations).