Press Release

Gillibrand Pushing For Federal Funding Boost For Public Libraries 

May 30, 2024

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is calling for increased funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Grants to States program, the only federal program that provides federal funding exclusively for libraries across the country. LSTA funding provides grants to states to meet local needs for a broad range of library services—including afterschool programming, homework help, summer reading programs, interview preparation and job application services, family literacy classes, and more. Over the last five years, the program has provided more than $41 million in federal funding to libraries in New York, including $8.1 million. Funds have supported summer reading programs, early literacy resources, and digital inclusion programming at libraries across the state.

Particularly in communities that lack widespread access to high-speed internet, it can be a significant challenge to find and apply for jobs online, access online coursework, or apply for government benefits,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Public libraries not only bridge this gap by providing free internet and readily available access to computers, but also serve as vital educational resources across the state. I’m working with my colleagues across the aisle to push for increased federal funding to make sure libraries have the funding they need to continue providing these critical services to their communities.” 

The full text of Gillibrand’s letter to Senate appropriators is available here or below: 

Dear Chair Baldwin and Ranking Member Capito: 

As you develop the Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, we urge you to provide increased funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).  

Libraries play a vital role in our communities, offering access for all to essential information on a wide range of topics, skills and career training, broadband, and computing services. According to a national survey (2022), nearly 100 percent of public libraries reported offering free Internet access. According to American Libraries, more than 83 percent of libraries in rural areas reported serving as their community’s only provider of no-fee Internet and computing services (The Last Mile, American Libraries, 2022).  Over 90 percent of public libraries offer technology training, and 76 percent assist navigating digital government resources.  

Increasingly, libraries have become centers for employment and business development services. Veterans transitioning into civilian life are turning to their local library for services such as completion of education and job training skills, resume building, job application, and access to earned veteran and family benefits. At a time when many job applications must be completed online, nearly all public libraries offer services which help patrons prepare resumes and conduct job searches, according to a 2019 report. For small businesses and entrepreneurs, many libraries offer 3-D printers and makerspaces to help designers innovate and provide access to specialized databases and collections.  

The building blocks of language and literacy form in the first three years of a child’s life. In their first year, a child’s brain doubles in size, and by age 3, a child’s brain is twice as active as an adult’s. Developing these skills makes it easier for children to learn to read in school according to a Maine State Library Report., While more than 80 percent of children from economically disadvantaged communities lose reading skills over the summer because they lack access to books, learning resources, and such enrichment opportunities as trips to the library, bookstore, or museum, according to a Reading Is Fundamental 2022 report.  Solving the literacy crisis requires creative collaboration among various stakeholders—and libraries have a crucial role to play. 

LSTA grants enable libraries to develop services in every community throughout the Nation, including people of diverse geographic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds, individuals with disabilities, residents of rural and urban areas, Native Americans, military families, veterans, and caregivers. LSTA support those who have difficulty in using a library through grants that support library services for the blind and physically handicapped through the use of assistive technology and accessible reading materials. For those who are blind or whose physical abilities limit their use of traditional print material, LSTA is a lifeline and connects them to a modern society.  

We greatly appreciate the strong support for LSTA, administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, provided by this Subcommittee in recent years, including $211.0 million in FY 2024. Increasing funding for LSTA in FY 2025 will help ensure that Americans of all ages have access to Internet, information services, academic, employment resources, and innovative services that meet community needs at public libraries (LSTA was reauthorized at $232 million in 2018).  

Thank you for your attention to this request and your continued support in sustaining and strengthening our nation’s libraries and the innovative solutions they provide to communities across the nation.