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Top tags: budget  federal funding  Keystone Grant 

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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Legislative Update - State budget status

Posted By Christi Buker, Thursday, April 13, 2017

The PA House of Representatives version of the state budget was put forward as HB218.  It was approved in the House one day after it was introduced.  Bill info is here.   It is now in the PA Senate for consideration.  

As noted in the last Legislative Update to you – this budget leaves the Public Library Subsidy and the Services to the Visually Impaired & Disabled at the same budget amount as last year.  However, it includes a significant cut of $461,000 to the Library Access line item, and a cut of $142,000 to the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. 

The Library Access line includes funding for three vital services –

1.       POWER Library network of electronic resources – including cost-effective statewide subscriptions to research services that range from school-age appropriate materials, newspapers, magazines, genealogy, academic materials, and health materials.

2.       Statewide catalog (formerly Access PA database program) - with the largest online catalog of its kind in North America.  It includes the library holdings of more than 2500 public, school, academic, and special libraries. 

3.       Interlibrary Delivery Service (IDS) which makes interlibrary loan possible. 

The Office of Commonwealth Libraries budget line item provides invaluable direct and indirect support to libraries in staff, training, and materials.  

The PA Senate will be in session again beginning Monday, April 17.  While the Senate traditionally does not move as quickly as the House, our timely outreach on the budget is important. 

Talking points to share with PA Senators:

1.       We don’t need to “thank” them for level funding.  Over time, level funding has meant cuts because expenses have not remained level.

We are at the same funding level as 2010, and had a 32% cut in 2006.  Inflation since 2010 is almost 10%.

2.       Do not take anything away from libraries!  We rely on all four budget line items for quality and accessible library services to our citizens.

3.       If the Senate is considering options to show a positive mark – investing in libraries is an easy decision and impacts all ages!  Consider:

a.       Libraries directly connect with citizens – including hours beyond the regular business day.

b.       Libraries provide access to high-priority occupation resources including workforce development online curricula, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programming and kits for school-age learning.

c.       Early education to a wide majority of birth through pre-k ages and their caregivers, not just targeted populations.

d.       Many PA residents do not have in-home internet or computers.  Libraries are reliable and safe access points for everyone.

e.       Highly credentialed librarians help patrons find the right answers – not a million hits on Google, and teach the difference between fake news and credible sources.  

We know that libraries are also facing the threat of cuts in federal funding with the proposed 100% elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  There will be more information on the federal challenges in the next week, and we will share how we will work together to tackle those.

Great stories are being shared during this National Library Week – look on our Facebook pages for details.  Be sure to share those local success stories with your PA Senator. 

Please stay with us – and we will work together for strong state support for libraries!

Christi Buker
Executive Director
Pennsylvania Library Association

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House GOP proposed state budget

Posted By Christi Buker, Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Republicans of the PA House of Representatives released their proposed state budget on Monday, April 3.  Here are the  numbers:


2016-17 Budget


Governor’s proposal


House GOP proposal

Public Library Subsidy





Library services for visually impaired & disabled





Library access





Office of Commonwealth Libraries






The Public Library Subsidy remains level as does the funding for Library services for visually impaired & disabled.  However, there is a $461,000 cut in library access and $142,000 total cut for Office of Commonwealth Libraries. 

The Pennsylvania Library Association is working with Greenlee Partners to determine if there was any reasoning behind these specific cuts.  With the strong push by the legislature to avoid any increase in taxes, this is likely a part of their proposed solution.  The budget is not a done deal.  Please take a moment to call your legislators and let them know, libraries need more funding, not less.

Next week is National Library Week, April 9-15, 2017.  This is a great opportunity to alert your elected officials – and ask them to be supportive of the good work that libraries do in their communities.  This is also a great time to reach out to your federal officials as they will be back in their local offices for a two-week spring break.   If you are able to get a local government proclamation in support of National Library Week, please send us an email, and a picture if you can.  We’d love to highlight the Pennsylvanians care about libraries! 

Other updates:

The Legislative Information Committee met on April 3, and is actively preparing for National Library Legislative Day, May 1-2, in Washington, DC.  Online registration is available until April 7! Register for National Library Legislative Day!

We are working in collaboration with ALA to fight the proposed elimination of Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) which distributes the federal funds through Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) that are vital to all Pennsylvania libraries whether through direct or indirect supportive services, materials, and staff.  More action alerts from ALA are expected after the federal break. ALA - Fight for Libraries!

If you have questions, useful comments, or patron-impact quotes, please let me know – your voice, and your membership matters at the Pennsylvania Library Association.

Christi Buker
Executive Director
Pennsylvania Library Association

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State funding increase for libraries needed now, not later

Posted By Christi Buker, Friday, March 3, 2017

State Funding Increase for Libraries Needed Now, Not Later


The Pennsylvania Library Association is asking the General Assembly for an increase of $1.94 million to the public library subsidy line in the 2017-2018 Pennsylvania budget.   This would take total state funding for public libraries to $56.41 million - a 3.56% increase over the current funding. 


   Pennsylvania public libraries receive the same amount of state aid as they did in 2010.  The current $54.47 million public library subsidy is the result of a $21 million (32%) cut in 2006.  Meanwhile, inflation has reached almost 10% since 2010. 


   Libraries directly connect with our citizens – including hours beyond the regular business day – helping them access key government resources such as referrals to local resources for battling the opioid crisis, workforce development online curricula for career building, business tools for employers, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programming and kits for school-age programming, significant early education learning for a majority of our population, and vital computer and internet access.

   We know that in the face of state departmental cuts and consolidations, public libraries, when properly funded, will be the key to filling the needs of our citizens in a cost-effective way.   A recent example of this was when the PA Department of Health, one of our PA Forward partners, asked us to assist them with their “Stopping the Flu Starts with You” Campaign. The department needed ways to connect residents with resources and information in their home communities. Through our efforts, we identified more than 40 libraries willing to provide space, event organization and staff time to assist the department in getting this very important message out to the our most treasured resources – residents throughout Pennsylvania.

   In addition to the physical resources in the building, and 24/7 accessibility to electronic resources, libraries offer the human connection from professional, credentialed librarians and staff that assist all patrons.  In a day and age where the internet is abuzz with discussions of what is fake versus credible news, our librarians are there, assisting their users with locating reliable, accurate information so they are making informed decisions that may have a long-term impact on their lives.

   Libraries have already made staff cuts since the funding cuts of 2006, put off repairs, and stretched every dollar in their lean budgets.  The need for an increase in library funding is NOW, not later.

Pennsylvania Library Association Fast Facts – Public Libraries:

         There are 456 public libraries with 629 outlets that receive state aid.

         State aid requires minimum standards of open hours, professional librarians who meet rigorous credentialing standards, and significant local investment. 

         Approximately 85% of public libraries in PA are 501(c)(3) organizations that rely on the combination of state and local funding, donations, and fundraising for operational budgets. 

         Libraries offer services to library card holders 24/7 through digital content including eBooks, audiobooks, and databases.  In the latest data from 2014, there were more than 5.29 million registered library users, and more than 66.14 million items circulated in Pennsylvania public libraries.

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Governor's budget is out

Posted By Christi Buker, Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Governor Wolf’s proposed budget for 2017-2018 calls for level funding for the public library subsidy and a $12,000 cut to the State Library.  If you want to see the full details, here is a link.  2017-2018 Governor's proposed budget

We recognize that level funding does not address increasing expenses. However, with the political climate regarding the current fiscal year revenue shortfall, prison closure, furloughs, and government agency mergers, we are relieved that the public library subsidy did not get reduced.

This is the beginning of the budget process.  As the Legislature does their analysis, and makes comments, we will be paying attention and engaging you throughout the process.  We will all have work to do over the next few months.  YOU can help us by gathering success stories – both from the voices of library staff and patrons. 

Your continued membership, with the numbers of professionals and libraries represented, is critical to our success in gaining support for libraries.  With a portion of your membership dues investment, we can hire Greenlee Partners, a professional lobbying firm, to help us gain access to important conversations with the Governor’s staff and legislators.

Please stay connected! 


Christi Buker, Executive Director
Pennsylvania Library Association

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