117th U.S. Congress; Second Session
ILA works closely with our national organization, the American Library Association, to advance a federal legislative agenda in support of libraries nationwide. We urge ALA members and library supporters to sign up as advocates and use ALA’s advocacy resources to build strong relationships with decision-makers.
Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act
The IIJA was passed by the House in November 2021 and the Senate in August 2021, and was signed into law by President Biden on November 15. It contains the Digital Equity Act, which will provide $2.75 billion in funding for digital inclusion efforts, for which libraries are eligible. One of its programs will be allocated out through states; the other features direct competitive grants.
Build America's Libraries Act
The average public library building dates back to 1970—before the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), the World Wide Web (1991), and the “maker” movement (2005). Our communities need modern libraries to meet today’s needs. We need the Build America’s Libraries Act, which would provide $5 billion to repair, modernize, and construct library facilities. Funding would be distributed through IMLS to state library agencies. State libraries would then award grants on a competitive basis to local libraries. Public libraries, tribal libraries, and state library agencies that serve the public would be eligible for funding, with priority for libraries serving marginalized communities.
This is an audacious campaign that would transform our libraries for decades—but key decisions about the fate of the effort will be made in just the coming weeks. We must mobilize library supporters now in an urgent, all-hands push to communicate the crucial impact of libraries on learning, our communities, and the recovery ahead.
American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
March 10, 2021: Libraries are eligible for billions of dollars in recovery funding as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 passed by Congress on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) received $200 million, the largest single increase in the agency’s 25-year history. The package also provides billions of dollars in academic, public, and school library-eligible programs, including the Emergency Education Connectivity Fund through the federal E-rate program; and funding for the NEH and NEA for which libraries will be eligible.
Federal Legislative Agenda
Funding and Support
Equitable federal funding for library services is essential to ensuring that every community in America has strong libraries.
Dedicated library programs
Increase and maintain funding for the:
- Institute of Museum and Library Services, which administers the Library Services and Technology Act, with priority on services and technology for underserved communities;
- Innovative Approaches to Literacy program, with priority on funding for underserved, tribal, and/or high-need school libraries through the Department of Education;
- Library of Congress, including the National Library Service for the Blind & Print Disabled; and
- Federal Depository Library Program and the Government Publishing Office.
Continue and enhance federal programs for which libraries are eligible recipients or partners. Recognize and support libraries’ important roles in:
- Economic and workforce development, including in reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act;
- K-12 education, including in reauthorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act; and
- Higher education, including in reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, and preserving eligibility of library workers for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Library infrastructure and sustainability
Provide support to make library facilities more modern, healthy, safe, sustainable, resilient, and accessible for all users.
Internet Access and Digital Inclusion
To promote digital equity and enable modern library services, libraries in all parts of the country must be able to serve their users with fast and affordable broadband, technology access, and digital skills training.
- E-rate: Improve outreach and technical assistance for applicants to increase library participation in the program, especially in underserved communities. Ensure eligibility of tribal libraries.
- Technology access and training: Provide funding for libraries to strengthen internet and technology access and digital skills training for all through the Emergency Connectivity Fund, Digital Equity Act, and other legislative possibilities.
- Broad telecommunications policy: Restore net neutrality protections and preserve Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to ensure equitable access to the internet.
Copyright, Licensing, and Competition
Libraries rely on balanced and flexible copyright policy to enable vital library services. ALA supports a modern copyright system with effective user rights and limitations and exceptions to copyright. Additionally, libraries rely on fair licenses and market practices in order to provide access to digital content such as e-books.
- E-books and digital content: Prevent unfair and anti-competitive practices that limit libraries’ ability to meet their users’ reading and information needs. Advocate for federal legislation and regulation and support state-level initiatives in collaboration with ALA Chapters. Develop strategy for the long-term.
- Copyright Office: Preserve the Librarian of Congress’ authority to manage and oversee the Copyright Office.
Government Information and Services
Libraries provide access to government information and services in communities across the country. ALA supports policies that assist libraries in providing no-fee permanent public access to government information and equitable access to government services, which includes voting.
- Federal Depository Library Program: Modernize the Federal Depository Library Program.
- Public access to research: Ensure public access to publicly-funded research and data.