Thursday, April 13, 2017
For this year's National Library Week (April 9-15, 2017), the American Library Association (ALA) has designated April 13 as Take Action for Libraries Day as part of an ongoing advocacy campaign to counter the Administration's proposed draconian budget cuts, which include the elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the leading federal agency supporting the work of museums and libraries nationwide.
Specifically, the ALA is calling on Congress to preserve funding levels for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), as well as the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program. For those wishing to engage directly in the effort to support libraries and museums of all types, the ALA offers an array of advocacy resources online.
The stated mission of the IMLS is "to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement," by providing "leadership through research, policy making, and grant making." The Common Curator can attest firsthand to the vital importance of the IMLS mission, having worked on two major IMLS digitization grants to help create two substantial and significant digital collections that are freely accessible online.
As Project Director, the Common Curator received a $120,300 grant to build the North Carolina History of Health Digital Collection, which makes available some 350,000 pages of core health-related journal literature from 1849 to the present. Earlier, as Digital Production Editor & Metadata Coordinator, he helped build American Journeys: A Digital Library and Learning Center, which features eyewitness accounts of early American exploration and settlement from around 1500 to 1850. It, too, has been heavily utilized since its launch, attracting hundreds of thousands of users annually.
It is estimated there are 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums in the U.S. Moreover, it is estimated that 169 million people over 14 are library users (69% of the population), while 148 million people over 18 visit a museum annually. Clearly, there is a critical demand and need for memory institutions, which is consistent with the IMLS vision, namely, "A democratic society where communities and individuals thrive with broad public access to knowledge, cultural heritage, and lifelong learning."