In Support of Funding for Public Libraries

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I rise
today to oppose Rep. SCOTT GARRETT’s
amendment to the FY2011 Continuing Resolution.
His proposal to erase funding for the Institute
of Museum and Library Services will effectively
eliminate all specific federal funding
for libraries. Doing so would cut off access to
information for millions of Americans.

I believe our government needs to be more
fiscally responsible, but as the son a librarian,
I know the high cost these cuts will have in
the long term. If we are serious about competing
in a global economy, we must provide
our children with the tools and resources to
succeed, and cutting funds for our libraries will
only hinder our chance to win the future.

As a nation, we cannot afford to cut ourselves
off from such necessary tools for economic
recovery as books, periodicals, newspapers,
the internet, and the bevy of information
our public libraries provide. If funding for
public libraries is removed, the Georgia Public
Library Service will no longer be able to provide
the following:

  • The statewide network of high-speed Internet
    data lines providing access to all 400+ libraries
    in Georgia

  • The award-winning, nationally-recognized
    PINES network and statewide library card system,
    which is used by more than 2.4 million
    Georgians and provides statewide lending via
    a shared database of more than 10 million

  • A Statewide daily courier service for interlibrary
    loans to the headquarters of all 61 public
    library systems in Georgia—nearly 1 million
    books shared in this way

  • "Talking book" library services for the blind
    and other Georgians whose physical abilities
    require the use of books and magazines in
    audio format or in Braille—encompassing
    more than 1 million annual circulations

  • The GALILEO online databases, which contain
    essential quality digital resources for students
    (kindergarten through higher education),
    teachers, professors and public library users

  • The statewide Summer Reading Program,
    which served approximately 450,000 children
    in 2010—an increase of more than 10 percent
    from 2009

  • Shared services that provide necessary
    OCLC cataloging information and interlibrary
    loan access to every library in the state

  • Continuing education programs and training
    for library staff who work in all types of libraries—
    public, university, K–12 and specialized—
    and for trustees

Consulting services to assist in improving
local library operations in technology, governance,
services to children, and other areas.

As we bounce back from the recession, it is
clear that more Georgians are turning to our
public libraries for informational and educational
needs. Libraries play a critical role in
workforce recovery and economic development
throughout our state. These funds allow
Georgia’s libraries to take advantage of
economies of scale that benefit all libraries.
The loss of these critical funds would force the
elimination of services essential to Georgia
residents of all ages—and this, Mr. Speaker,
is at a cost we cannot afford!