Investing in education, by definition, means investing in better libraries.
Libraries are essential parts of a strong Pennsylvania education—key assets for building literacy levels and moving PA Forward.
The Pennsylvania Library Association’s literacy initiative, PA Forward | Pennsylvania Libraries (www.paforward.org), brings to life how our residents rely on libraries for self-improvement in five essential areas: Basic, Information, Civic and Social, Health, and Financial Literacies. Just consider these few examples:
· Basic: Libraries build literacy and learning skills from the earliest years of life, sustaining year-round learning during the K-12 years and making lifelong learning possible for everyone.
· Information: They help us gain a command of new online resources and technologies and give us the ability to fully participate as citizens, workers, and consumers in a digital society.
· Civic & Social: They support our ability to engage in and contribute to community life.
· Health: They guide us to lead healthier lives and make more informed health care decisions.
· Financial: They prepare us to make smarter financial decisions at home and at work, and teach our youngest citizens (even as young as preschoolers) to understand financial concepts and begin to think about spending, saving, and contributing.
To prepare citizens to meet the demands of life, libraries offer print and online resources, public programs, community outreach services, and staff members who are information experts. No organizations in our state are better positioned than libraries to help move PA Forward.
But for libraries, it has become increasingly difficult to provide these essential literacy services after nine years of stagnant and declining budgets. Since the start of the Great Recession, cuts in state support for library services total more than $196 million.
Libraries made do with less in the hard times but we now need and deserve more. In order for libraries to continue to provide literacy and other critical services, stronger state support is essential:
- In the 2015-16 budget that likely will include sizeable increases in state funding for education, the Pennsylvania Library Association urges that the first step be taken in a gradual and proportionate replenishment of library resources.
- Our financial goals call for eventual state increases in program support totaling $44 million, or about $11 million additional support per year for the next four years.
- Going forward, library aid should increase each year in proportion to the increase in general education funding.
- Investing in education, by definition, means investing in better libraries.
Please support greater state investment in libraries—a wise and cost-effective investment that yields greater literacy and greater opportunities that truly will move PA Forward. Thank you.