Rep. Levin, Sen. Reed Introduce Legislation to Provide Stabilization Funding to Libraries During COVID-19 Pandemic
Congressman Andy Levin (D-MI) and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today introduced companion bills in the House and Senate to provide critical stabilization funding to libraries facing revenue losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Funding for local governments has been top of mind for me throughout this crisis and driven much of my congressional action.” Rep. Levin said. “We need to ensure that libraries and their employees can continue providing the services that have become even more important during the pandemic. Libraries are a source of information, educational materials, entertainment, professional development, and even telehealth care. We need to lift up these institutions whose primary goal is to serve everyone, regardless of area code, so that our children, families, friends and students can benefit from the wealth of resources libraries have to offer.”
“At a time when budgets of local governments have been decimated, America can’t afford to dismiss a national infrastructure of 117,000 libraries nimble enough to offer relief and advance recovery,” said American Library Association (ALA) President Julius C. Jefferson Jr. “The Library Stabilization Fund Act is the comprehensive federal response needed to keep our nation’s libraries safely in operation, and ALA is throwing the full weight of our advocacy network into supporting the bill. ALA applauds Representative Levin's leadership in recognizing that the library services Americans rely on are utterly dependent on library funding.”
The Library Stabilization Fund Act creates a $2 billion stabilization fund to bolster library services and address revenue losses. The bill instructs the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to distribute these funds for a range of services, including to:
- Maintain library services and keep nearly 370,000 library workers on the job;
- Purchase cleaning and PPE supplies and train staff for safe re-opening;
- Expand technology and services to keep library users connected; and
- Strengthen collections and programs to address needs such as remote learning, early literacy, job skills and access to government services.
In March, Rep. Levin sent a bipartisan letter signed by 36 House members to Congressional leaders requesting support for libraries in COVID-19 relief legislation. The CARES Act later included $50 million in library funding. Rep. Levin also led a bipartisan letter with Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Don Young (R-AK) signed by more than 100 House members urging House leadership to include further stabilization funding for America’s libraries in future COVID-19 legislation. The HEROES Act later included a $1.5 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund for schools and libraries as well as $5 million in funding for the IMLS.
The Library Stabilization Fund Act has 27 original cosponsors and is endorsed by the American Library Association, Association for Rural & Small Libraries, Association of Research Libraries, Brodart, Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, Council of State Archivists, Edge Consulting Partners, Follett / Baker & Taylor, International Dyslexia Association, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Center for Families Learning, National Coalition for History, National Coalition for Literacy, National Humanities Alliance, National League of Cities, OverDrive, Inc., Reading is Fundamental, Reading Recovery Council of North America, Reach Out and Read, Society of American Archivists, and Urban Libraries Council.