President Obama requested $231,953,777 for fiscal year 2013 for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as part of his budget for 2013. The amount is equal to the agency’s current funding. (As LJ reported, last year the President’s budget cut funding nearly 10 percent compared to 2011; the final budget came to a 2.3 percent cut.)
Of that sum, $184,704,000 is meant for the country’s 123,000 libraries. Approximately 85 percent ($156.3 million) of that will be distributed to the State Library Administrative Agencies according to a population-based formula. Other programs funded by this allocation include National Leadership Grants, which support the creation of new tools, research, models, services, practices, or alliances to shape tomorrow’s libraries; Native American and Native Hawaiian Library Services Grants; and Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grants, which build the professional capacity of libraries by improving staff knowledge and skills. (The Laura Bush program took the biggest hit from funding cuts in 2011, as LJ reported.)
The budget also provides $1,886,000 million in support for research and policy activities, including funding for the Public Library Survey and the State Library Agency Survey. IMLS’s research arm also manages evaluations of the Grants to States Program and the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, plus a national household survey to gauge the use of museums and library services among the American public.
“This budget helps museums and libraries level the playing field for the people of the United States,” said Susan Hildreth, director of IMLS. “Especially in our information age, libraries and museums are not luxuries; they are fundamental to supporting a democratic society where communities and individuals thrive with broad access to lifelong learning.”
American Library Association (ALA) President Molly Raphael said of the President’s budget request, “Libraries contribute in significant ways to support the economic recovery of their local communities. The President’s proposal for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) demonstrates the administration’s recognition that libraries are part of the solution for our economic recovery. LSTA helps job-seekers as well as employers and funding it is important for communities throughout the states. With a robustly funded library to serve its community, many job seekers will have the means to find and apply for jobs through Internet access at their local library, as well as access to information literacy skills training necessary for work in the 21st century.”