In recent weeks the White House announced the President’s budget proposal which calls for the elimination of the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding. NJ residents and the library community have reached out to express concern about this development, so in response we’d like to provide the following information about the current use of federal funding for libraries in NJ. It is important to note that we are at the beginning of the federal budget process. In the coming weeks we will also see budget proposals from both the House and Senate.
Libraries in every state in the nation benefit from funds allocated by Congress for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), the only federally funded program specifically dedicated to supporting libraries. Last year, libraries received just under $183 million in LSTA funding, about $156 million of which flowed to states as matching grants.
Libraries use these funds to, among other things, build and maintain a 21st century library that facilitates employment and entrepreneurship, adult and early literacy, digital literacy, community engagement, and individual empowerment.
Last year, New Jersey received approximately $4 million in LSTA funding and this money was used to benefit New Jersey’s residents in many ways, including:
- The NJ State Library Talking Book and Braille Center – the State’s library for blind and print-impaired residents, or those not able to hold a book due to a physical injury or impairment, or those who suffer from a reading disability or brain injury. (Read more about TBBC’s support for veterans here.)
- Jersey Connect – provides the technology backbone for over 300 libraries in the state.
- JerseyClicks Statewide Electronic Resource Licensing – provides access to quality information resources not available for free on the Internet to all NJ residents through NJ’s multi-type libraries (public, school, academic, and special).
- Sub-grants were awarded (using federal funds) to public libraries to support various adult literacy programs in local communities across the entire state.
The New Jersey State Library recently completed an independent evaluation of our activities supported with LSTA funds, which is now available on our website.
While the projects and services listed above are those currently funded through federal support, we must keep in mind that these are not necessarily the projects and services that would go away if we lose our federal funding. With this kind of a seismic shift, all library programs and services would have to be reprioritized – including those that are not currently supported by federal funds.
The following link to the current NJ profile on IMLS’s website provides the most complete picture of how our work accomplished through federal funding is used: https://www.imls.gov/grants/grants-state/state-profiles/new-jersey
ALA’s press release regarding the President’s proposal may be found at this link.
Additional information about how the NJ library community is responding to this matter can be found on the New Jersey Library Association’s website: https://njla.org/content/federal-budget-cuts.