Public libraries in the United States have traditionally relied on local support for the vast majority of their revenue. While this is still largely true, the funding landscape is getting more diverse, and there is a greater need for libraries to be increasingly creative when it comes to balancing base funding with new sources. Money allocated at the local level rarely stretches far enough to cover staffing, operations, collection development, and programming, let alone experimentation to invent or test innovative new services. Local funding is also subject to political winds as administrations change.
On April 1, House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his budget proposal for the fiscal year 2015. It would cut five trillion dollars from federal balance sheets in the next decade by making significant cuts to spending on initiatives like Medicare and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps. Among librarians, though, the most controversial cost-saving measure proposed in the Ryan budget might be its elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) entirely, cutting millions in grants to libraries around the country.