Federal Funding for Libraries, Museums Eliminated in FY2018 Budget

The Library of Congress announced, earlier this week, the acquisition of 575,000 images from the Civil Rights Movement. Photographer Bob Adelman volunteered with CORE – the Congress for Racial Equality – in the early 1960s to document protests and became one of the best-known photographers of the movement.

Adelman (1930-2016) summarized his work this way: “My life’s work, in addition to being about race relations, is about the many and diverse social concerns in the great tradition of American documentary photography: poverty, mental illness, alcoholism, inadequate housing, the immigrant experience, prostitution, delinquency, illiteracy and on and on.”

Thanks to an anonymous donor, prints, negatives, and slides from his archives are now housed in the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division. (More at Library of Congress announcement, ColorLines story.)

Federal Funding Cuts

Meanwhile, it is unclear how the White House’s proposed budget would affect the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art. It is obvious, however, how other avenues of lifelong learning would be affected.

The White House’s proposed budget would entirely eliminate funding for the following:

  • National Endowment for the Arts ($148 million),
  • National Endowment for the Humanities ($148 million),
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($445 million),
  • Heritage Areas in National Parks (Nat’l Heritage Areas) and
  • the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS, $230 million).

C7VeRCvU8AA4aoAFor 20 years, IMLS has been the primary conduit for over $214 million in annual federal funding to school, tribal, and other libraries around the country. Libraries use the funds to serve a range of needs, including “veterans transitioning to civilian life, small businesses seeking to expand their business online, summer reading programs, resources for blind and hearing-impaired patrons, resume writing and job skills workshops and computer coding courses to teach youth 21st century job skills.”

In response to the White House budget, the American Library Association reminds us that the original search engines were “skilled and engaged librarians” and points out that libraries “aren’t piles of archived books.” Instead, they are “trusted centers for technology, job counseling, retraining, veterans services, entrepreneurship, education, teaching and learning and free inquiry at the cores of communities” around the country.

Many organizations concerned about libraries and literacy, the arts and humanities, encourage those who are represented in Congress to voice concerns about the proposed budget.

Action Links

Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), through IMLS, is the primary annual funding in the federal budget. Learn more about IMLS and follow #SaveIMLS.

ALA asks supporters of libraries to contact their U.S. Representatives, with this “Dear Appropriator” letter (IAL-Approps-FY18-Letter [PDF]) and other Take Action links

Contact your Member of Congress, if you have one:

  • Call — generally considered more effective than e-mail; reach US Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.
  • Write, by going to the House website at house.gov and searching by zip code to find your  representative’s website and contact information. Current need is in the House, but you can also contact your senators by going to http://www.senate.gov.

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