What is IMLS?
IMLS is the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Its mission is “to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement, [to] provide leadership through research, policy development, and grant making….and serve as the primary federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums.“
Among other initiatives and grants, “the Grants to States program is the largest source of federal funding support for library services in the U.S. Using a population based formula, more than $150 million is distributed among the State Library Administrative Agencies every year.” “Each year, over 1,500 Grants to States projects support the purposes and priorities outlined in the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).”
What has IMLS done for school libraries?
I recently asked members of AASL’s Board of Directors what IMLS has done for their students, schools, and communities. A sample of their responses follows:
Kathryn Roots Lewis, Region 6 Director: “Norman (OK) Public Schools was awarded an IMLS National Leadership Leading in Libraries grant for over $540,000 entitled Guided Inquiry Making and Learning in School Libraries. The design-based participatory action research will extend knowledge on participatory learning in K-12 school libraries.”
Craig Seasholes, Region 8 Director: “School librarians in Washington State have been supported by IMLS grant-funded professional development workshops administered by the Washington State Library. This current year, a full-day Digital Citizenship training for school librarians is rolling out across the state in conjunction with the OSPI Ed Tech Office. Previous years’ trainings have made NGSS and CCSS trainings available to 400+ teacher librarians in an effort to support teacher PD in our schools through strong school library programs. The Library Services and Technology Act provides support for a crucial state-wide database licensing program that serves school and public libraries with equitable and affordable information resource access.”
Jody Howard, ESLS Representative: “Doctoral students in four different states, New York, Virginia, South Carolina, and Nebraska, have been supported through a $350,000 IMLS grant through the creation of specific doctoral curriculum and individual mentoring to prepare these doctoral students to work with graduate students in various MLS programs and as district library administrators.”
Robbie Nickel, Treasurer: “For Nevada IMLS funds are used for statewide databases. Many of the rural areas would not have access to these research materials if that goes away. The Elko County School District received IMLS funds to upgrade our library circulation system county-wide so that we could interlibrary loan materials, create district reports, and coordinate collection development. This also helped the technology department with the increased capabilities in troubleshooting and upgrading the system.”
And what about the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program?
Also on the budget-cutter chopping block is the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program, which “supports innovative programs that promote early literacy for young children, motivate older children to read, and increase student achievement by using school libraries as partners to improve literacy, distributing free books to children and their families, and offering high-quality literacy activities.”
What action is needed?
ALA’s Legislative Action Center gives you everything you need to identify your member of Congress and to ask him or her to sign LSTA and IAL “Dear Appropriator” letters being circulated to protect both of these critical programs in the FY 2018 federal budget. You can send an email, make a call, or send a tweet. It’s painless and takes five minutes or less. Please don’t delay: the deadline for House appropriator letters is April 3.
For more information, visit ALA’s Fight for Libraries website.