Congressional Inclusion of Libraries in Recovery Package?

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Jeffrey Scherer, board chair of Libraries for the Future in New York and Minneapolis architect (MS&R) who worked on the Alvar Branch renovation in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, has sent a letter to the New York Times urging that libraries not be left behind in the federal stimulus package.

He writes, “The proposed language of the $825 Billion Recovery Plan before the House of Representatives today does not include money for our libraries. While it includes roads and bridges to drive across our communities, it must include our intellectual bridges, the public library.”

The American Library Association (ALA) responded that Scherer, “though good-intentioned, has misunderstood and misrepresented the bill,” noting that libraries are qualifying institutions “for the K-12 Repair and Modernization funding and the Higher Education Repair and Modernization funding.” (That does still seem to leave out public libraries, however.)

To this, Scherer told the ALA Washington Office that his reading still indicates “that essentially public libraries are getting shorted in this bill,” from which “the 15,000+ public libraries in our society basically get nothing.” He went on to say, “That does not in any way suggest that the higher education, rural (native American) and school libraries do not deserve all that they can get. I applaud you for pointing this out. However, when a huge percentage of libraries are excluded, the notion that some libraries are included is just not enough.”

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