Library Closures and Defunding Concerns in 2017
It already looks like 2017 will be a daunting year for library funding and support across the country.
We are disheartened to report at least two public library closures and a continued decline of school library funding and support. We are also concerned about an empowered Republican Study Committee who have proposed Federal Budgets with an agenda that includes defunding the National Endowment of the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services which provides millions of dollars in grant funding to libraries. We will continue to see well organized institutions like the Koch Brothers funded Americans For Prosperity PAC come after libraries. That’s why we are starting this year by asking you to help us stand up against these initiatives and support our nation’s libraries.
Two communities in the United States have already announced the closure of their libraries. The anti-tax Douglas County Commissioners in Oregon have decided that their community members no longer need to access their libraries. One woman said she views the library as a cornerstone to growing up, "My mom got me my own library card and I would come in and pick out my books that I wanted. Ya know, libraries are a part of life," said library patron Darlene Mason. The closure of the ten branch libraries is scheduled for April 1st. The county's main public library in Roseburg is set to close May 30th. The other library announcing a closure is in Norlina, North Carolina where after six decades of service the doors will permanently shut on January 30th of this year. Closing libraries that serve small rural towns like Norlina and some of the communities in Douglas County, OR. often result in the expansion of the digital divide or the loss of access to broadband and other information services.
2017 has kicked-off with more threats of closures, layoffs, and defunding of school libraries. Most notably, the Galesburg School District in Illinois has a budget agenda that includes a proposal to cut 7 of the 8 libraries in the district that will be discussed at a closed-door meeting on January 25th. We also continue to see cuts to school libraries in Chicago in some of the most impoverished schools and across Chicago only ¼ of the schools have school librarians. In Michigan, the state is currently fighting a lawsuit by seven Detroit schoolchildren who say their schools are horrible — by countering that “there is no fundamental right to literacy.” We fully expect attacks like this to continue throughout 2017 unless we start standing up to support our children and their education.
We will definitely continue to see the Koch Brothers funded superPAC, Americans for Prosperity, come out against libraries in 2017. As we have seen since 2014, this anti-tax and anti-government organization has enough resources to fight against a wide range of library initiatives and we are going to need your help to support libraries when they come. They have already fought against libraries in Illinois, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Kansas. You can help us ensure that we can fight back by making a contribution to the Koch Brothers Fund here.
Federal Budget Agenda
With a dramatic shift in the administration in Washington, we are going to see a stronger push to defund many government programs that support libraries. There is a historical precedent in previous Republican Study Committee budget agendas such as the Blueprint for a Balanced Budget that was released in March of 2016 and shows a clear determination to defund services such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This program provides nearly $250 million dollars in grants to libraries for infrastructure, technology, programs and more. Without this funding many libraries will be forced to make dramatic cuts and will not be able to provide the quality services that so many communities deserve. Besides IMLS, this budget agenda targets the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts for defunding and privatization.
Join Us in Supporting Libraries
EveryLibrary is hard at work supporting libraries across the country. As the first and only Political Action Committee for libraries, organized as a 501(c)4, we have a robust strategy to support libraries of all kinds. Through your donations we are able to provide pro-bono political consulting to libraries, associations, and advocacy groups. We have the largest digital political action website at action.everylibrary.org where we host a wide range of petitions for libraries at all levels of government, take donations to support libraries, and identify volunteers who want to get more involved in fighting for libraries. We are asking you to join us by making a contribution, signing a petition, or signing up to volunteer today.
Together, we can make a difference for libraries.
EveryLibrary is a registered 501c4 organization (FEIN 46-1534149). We invite you to check up on us before donating by finding out more about us on Guidestar, the most trusted guide to non-profits on the Internet.