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Federal support for PA Libraries

Posted By Christi Buker, Friday, April 28, 2017

As I’m sure you know, libraries across the state are funded through a combination of state, federal, county and municipal support, plus donations and fundraising efforts.  As we prepare for National Library Legislative Day on May 2 I’d like to focus on the federal support for libraries.

Federal support comes from 2 areas:

1.       The Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) authorizes federal dollars to support libraries.  The federal funds are administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  IMLS issues grants for libraries in three categories:

a.       The “Grants to States” program awarded $5.4 million to Pennsylvania in the current fiscal year.  Of this amount, $1.8 million covers operational and administrative support through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, more than $860,000 in direct support of library services, and $2.9 million for indirect support for library services. Detailed reports can be found on the Office of Commonwealth Libraries website at this link and scroll to the bottom:

PA LSTA funding

b.       Competitive IMLS grants vary from year to year.  In 2015-16, IMLS awarded $24,570 to PA libraries, but in 2016-17, IMLS awarded $1.196 million directly to PA libraries.

c.       IMLS also awards funds in the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program that helps develop strong, professional librarians. 

2.       The E-rate program is under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and provides discounts to schools and libraries for affordable broadband and internet services.  Pennsylvania libraries were eligible for more than $4 million in reimbursement funding in 2015.  This is nearly a 66% discount!

Detailed reports about E-rate discounts for libraries in Pennsylvania can be found at this link:  PA E-rate information

Pennsylvania Library Association receives federal LSTA support, provided through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries for 3 statewide programs:

1.       PA Forward initiative – “Literacy is POWER.  Libraries provide the FUEL, for you, your community, for Pennsylvania”, the new Star Library Program, and the vital 5 literacies – basic, information, civic and social, health, and financial literacy

2.       College and Research Division (CRD) professional development support that underwrites the expenses of quality speakers and trainers at chapter workshops, and annual conference

3.       PALS = Pennsylvania Library Association Academy of Leadership Studies workshops have grown into the Directors’ Institute, Leadership Academy, and You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader workshop.


Two useful documents that we will be using on May 2 for National Library Legislative Day, can be found here.



Please talk to your US Congressman and US Senators – and let them know that IMLS and e-Rate are important to your local library, and for ALL libraries in Pennsylvania.


Christi Buker | Executive Director
Pennsylvania Library Association | 220 Cumberland Parkway, Suite 10 | Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
717.766.7663 – office

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