January 27, 2021

ALA Advocacy Alert: Take Action: Urge your Senator to Support Library Infrastructure!

At the end of the last Congress, library champion Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced the Build America's Libraries Act as both a standalone bill and part of the larger Economic Justice Act as a starting point for future action in the 117th Congress to address the dire need to modernize our nation's library infrastructure. The time for action is now, and we need your help to ensure key Senate Democratic leaders join as original co-sponsors for the re-introduction of the Build America's Libraries Act this week. 

The bill would begin to address decades of federal underinvestment by providing $5 billion to repair, modernize, and construct modern library facilities, with priority for libraries in underserved and marginalized communities and those with the greatest demonstrated need. 
While library construction funding was included in federal law in 1964, Congress removed the provision 30 years later in favor of spending on library services and technology. While those needs remain constant, many library facilities themselves desperately need support. The average library building is now more than 40 years old, and over the last decade (FY 09-19), library capital expenditures were $1.5 billion less than the decade before (FY 99-08), adjusted for inflation.

Senator Baldwin, who serves on the Senate HELP committee, previously sponsored the Economic Justice Act, which included the Build America's Libraries bill language. Thank them for their past support and ask that they now co-sponsor the Build America's Libraries Act with Senator Reed. The deadline for co-sponsorship is 10 a.m. ET Thursday, January 28. Feel free to use the quick ALA link here to email Senator Baldwin!

In addition, take this time to remind them that libraries are an essential lifeline in our communities, and support for libraries should be included in any COVID-19 economic relief or recovery legislation.