Legislative Alerts
September 23, 2020

Include Public Libraries in Legislation Addressing the Digital Divide

Your help is needed to make sure public libraries are included in legislation that addresses the digital divide. Your voice and story are essential to remind Congress that libraries are a critical safety net for people who do not have internet access at home. You may be planning on contacting your Senators on other issues at this time so please also take the time to tell your Senators that they should take immediate action to close the digital divide and that libraries are critical partners in providing internet access. Click here to send ALA's ready-made email to your Senators.

Funding for broadband and stabilization to libraries in a COVID relief package is in jeopardy. Last week, Senate leadership failed to pass a COVID relief package after weeks of negotiations, leaving it uncertain whether there will be additional broadband funding available for libraries. Congress has indicated it is not convinced emergency funding for internet access is necessary. Libraries tell us otherwise. 

ALA is supporting several broadband bills that call for Wi-Fi funding, including: 

  • The bi-partisan HOTSPOTS Act, introduced by Sens. Joe Manchin (D- WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME),  would provide $160 million to the Institute of Museum and Library Services for a Wi-Fi hotspot pilot program, with funding going to state library agencies for libraries to keep people connected who don't have home internet access.  
  • The ACCESS the Internet Act by Sens. Manchin and John Cornyn (R-TX)  seeks funding for telehealth and K12 education as well as libraries. The bill calls for $200 million for IMLS for similar purposes as the HOTSPOTS Act.  
  • The Emergency Educational Connections Act led by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) calls for $4 billion for libraries and K-12 schools to purchase Wi-Fi hotspots and other internet capable devices to support students and library patrons.  
  • The House-passed HEREOS Act calls  for $2 billion in funding for hotspots, routers, modems, and other connected devices such as laptops to be incorporated into the next COVID-19 relief package and funneled through the Federal Communications Commission's E-Rate program. Public and tribal libraries, K-12 schools, and tribal schools are eligible for funding. 
Unless you tell them, your Senators won't know how libraries are making sure people can work from home, apply for jobs, meet with healthcare providers, and so much more! Thank you for your persistence in communicating that message.
Click here to send ALA's ready-made email to your Senators

Now for something completely different...

Apply Now: Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries

The American Library Association (ALA) has announced plans to award nearly $2 million to small and rural libraries in 2020 and 2021 to help them address issues of concern in their communities.

Through Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, up to 650 U.S. libraries in small and rural communities will receive $3,000 to tackle issues ranging from media literacy to COVID-19 safety to unemployment.

Library workers may apply online for grant funding from September 21 to December 2, 2020, at ala.org/LTC. Up to 650 grants will be distributed over two funding rounds. The opportunity is open to libraries serving small and/or rural communities in the U.S. and U.S. territories. The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) defines small communities as those with a legal service area population of 25,000 or less and rural communities as those more than, or equal to, five miles from an urbanized area. Read the full project guidelines. Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries is offered in partnership with the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL). The initiative is supported by a private donor and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
Apply for grant
July 8, 2020

Co-Sponsors Needed 

Representative Andy Levin (D-MI) and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) are sponsoring legislation calling for $2 billion in emergency recovery funding for America's libraries through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The Library Stabilization Fund Act would allow libraries across the country to retain staff, maintain services, and safely keep communities connected and informed. This funding would provide: 

  • $1.7 billion to be distributed to libraries through state library agencies based on state population, with a minimum of $10 million to each state 

  • $45 million in grants to Tribal libraries 

  • $200 million in competitive grants to strengthen library services to communities most affected by COVID-19 

  • $40 million for IMLS to administer grants and conduct research and data collection related to the impacts of COVID-19 

Please help us by emailing your legislators and asking them to cosponsor this bill.
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