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March 17, 2017

The White House has released its new budget blueprint, an advisory document that proposes increases in spending to military programs and national security, coupled with major decreases to—or the complete elimination of—many programs supporting museum and library services, scientific data and research, human health, and environmental safety; social uplift, education, and protection for the poor; international diplomacy, cooperation, and aid; and the arts, culture, and history. The House and Senate will now begin offering their own budget resolutions, and a long process of negotiation—informed by the will of the people, as expressed to our elected representatives—will ultimately result in Appropriations Committee legislation setting funding levels for agencies and offices.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has been targeted for elimination.  The Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) administered by IMLS provides critically important funding for our nation’s libraries. LSTA Grants to States is the largest grant program run by IMLS and Grants to States appropriations are distributed directly to each state and territory through a population-based formula. Each state identifies the most appropriate uses of these funds for library services and activities to meet their state’s economic, educational, civic, and demographic needs. The return on investment for this program is substantial and is enhanced by each state’s matching contribution. Many of the innovations taking place in America’s libraries today are a direct result of this vital and successful program.

In Ohio, federal LSTA funds are used in ways that touch every community across the state.  The State Library supports the machine lending activities for the Ohio Talking Book program, serving the state’s blind and physically disabled population, with LSTA funding.  Licensing and management fees for the Ohio Digital Library are paid using LSTA dollars.  The SEO Library Consortium is partially subsidized with federal LSTA funding.  A core set of high quality, relevant, and reliable library databases acquired and made freely available through the Ohio Web Library to all Ohioans through a partnership with OPLIN, OhioLINK, and INFOhio rely on substantial LSTA funding made available through the State Library of Ohio.  Many of Ohio’s school libraries were automated through INFOhio with the support of LSTA funds.

The State Library of Ohio receives an LSTA appropriation of approximately $5 million per year.  If these LSTA dollars were no longer available in Ohio, the negative impact would be far-reaching and the following programs and services would be curtailed or significantly reduced:

  • EBSCO databases would disappear (or would have to be funded at the local level). The lack of LSTA funding to support the library databases jointly provided by the State Library, OPLIN, OhioLINK, and INFOhio would jeopardize the partnership and could potentially lead to elimination of the statewide availability of these resources.
  • Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled services supported by the State Library would be curtailed.
  • Public libraries would not receive summer reading materials and summer reading workshops would no longer be subsidized.
  • Ohio Digital Library, serving the patrons of 177 public libraries across the state, would no longer receive support from the State Library; member libraries would be required to pay a portion of the yearly software maintenance ($125,000).
  • Data available through the Public Library Survey would be minimal.
  • Consulting services, such as strategic planning, space design, and youth services would be significantly reduced or eliminated.
  • State Library support for WebJunction would end and library staff would no longer have access to Skillsoft courses.
  • Competitive grants to support innovative initiatives in areas including Data Management and Analytics, Outreach and Partnerships, and STEM/STEAM, would no longer exist.
  • The SEO Library Center would no longer be partially supported with federal funding, requiring the elimination of some services such as Technology Training on Demand.  Continuation of services would require increased financial support from SEO member libraries.
  • Leadership programs such as Library Leadership Ohio and ILEAD USA-Ohio would be eliminated.
  • The process of establishing the Ohio Digital Network as a service hub for DPLA would be significantly delayed or terminated.
  • Plans to use LSTA funds to support the Guiding Ohio Online digital literacy program once the grant funding from Serve Ohio ends in FY 2018 would be eliminated.

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.

As a federal government agency, IMLS cannot engage in any form of advocacy. However, they will continue to actively educate about the important role of IMLS and LSTA in serving our nation’s communities as they work closely with the Office of Management and Budget as the budget process continues.  I encourage you to sign up through the ALA Action Center to receive advocacy alerts, background information, and talking points about this important issue. Ongoing funding and policy updates from the ALA Washington Office also are available at the District Dispatch blog.  If you would like information about the amount of LSTA grant funding your library has received in recent years, please contact Missy Lodge or Cindy Boyden at the State Library of Ohio.

Media Contact:

Marsha McDevitt-Stredney, Public Information Officer and Director, Marketing & Communications (614) 644-6875