117th U.S. Congress; First 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.
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. Key issues for 2021:
- COVID-19 relief: Provide emergency funding so that libraries, which have suffered thousands of furloughs as a result of COVID-19, can keep their communities connected, support online learning during the pandemic, and promote economic recovery.
- Dedicated library programs: Increase and maintain funding for the:
• Institute of Museum and Library Services, which administers the Library Services and Technology Act;
• Innovative Approaches to Literacy program, which provides funding for school libraries through the Department of Education;
• Library of Congress, including the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled;
• National Library of Medicine and its network of libraries; and
• Federal Depository Library Program and the Government Publishing Office.
- Library-eligible programs: Continue and enhance federal programs for which libraries are eligible recipients or partners. Recognize and support libraries’ important roles in:
• K-12 education, including in reauthorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act;
• Higher education, including in reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, and preserving eligibility of library staff for Public Service Loan Forgiveness; and
• Workforce development, including in reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
- Library infrastructure and sustainability: Provide support to make library facilities more modern, healthy, safe, green, 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. Key issues for 2021:
- E-rate: Preserve continued access for libraries to E-rate support. Improve outreach and technical assistance for applicants. Ensure eligibility of tribal libraries.
- Technology access and training: Provide funding for libraries to strengthen internet and technology access and digital skills training.
- Net neutrality: Restore net neutrality protections.
Copyright, Licensing, and Competition
Libraries rely on balanced and flexible copyright policy to enable vital library services. ILA and ALA support a modern copyright system with effective user rights and limitations and exceptions to copyright that protect library services. Additionally, libraries rely on fair licenses and market practices in order to provide access to digital content such as e-books. Key issues for 2021:
- E-books and digital content: Federal and state scrutiny of unfair and anti-competitive practices that limit libraries’ ability to meet their users’ reading and information needs.
- Copyright Office: Preserving the Librarian of the Congress’ authority to manage and oversee the Copyright Office, and continued modernization of the Library’s and Office’s information infrastructure.
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. Key issues for 2021:
- Federal Depository Library Program: Modernize the Federal Depository Library Program.
- Public access to research: Ensure public access to publicly-funded research and data.