by Kelly Jacobsma, Director
Libraries generally don’t publicly promote political agendas; however we feel that our users may want to know how politics in Washington and the President’s proposed budget may impact library services in Michigan and at Hope. As you may know, President Trump has proposed eliminating all federal library funding – and the agency, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), that administers much of it – in his initial FY18 budget proposal.
Total elimination of IMLS as proposed in the President’s budget would have a devastating impact on library service across Michigan. For instance, the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds pay for all costs associated with MeLCat, the statewide resource sharing program that provides nearly one million loans to library patrons per year, as well as the majority of the Michigan eLibrary (MeL) 40 databases and eBook content. Both programs have become irreplaceable for libraries and schools of all types and sizes.
At Hope, we would not only lose MeLCat sharing, we would lose the Academic OneFile full-text database and many others. Academic OneFile is the most used database by Hope students.
During the FY18 appropriations lobbying season, the American Library Association asked Representatives to sign “Dear Appropriator” letters to the Appropriations Committee, asking them to preserve funding this year for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program. One-third of the entire House of Representatives (from both parties) signed “Dear Appropriator” letters and nearly 170 members signed at least one. (Visit this House tracker to see whether your Representative in the House signed.) So far, none of our West Michigan Congressmen have signaled support. While there will surely be budget negotiations, we invite you to express your support for LSTA funding and the exceptional services these funds provide to Michigan communities. The value of being informed about the issue is that it allows you to take a stand. You can make your voice heard by posting a comment on the blog, writing an opinion piece in a newspaper, or writing a thoughtful letter to your legislators in Washington. As always, remember that at Hope we practice the Virtues of Public Discourse as we express our views with those who may not agree with us.
The entire budget is online at America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again. For more information and actions that you can take to save library funding nationally and in Michigan, visit the American Library Association’s Government Relations and Advocacy page.