As some of you may know, funding for Missouri libraries is in crisis. Governor Nixon is withholding $6.6 million of the total amount of funding for libraries that was approved for the current fiscal year. The governor has proposed that this vastly reduced amount should be the total approved for next year.
Please visit Save Missouri Libraries for more information.
Please take to social media and your professional, social, and community networks to advocate for library funding.
The Missouri State Senate Appropriations Committee is meeting today to decide funding for the next fiscal year. This is the email I sent to each senator who sits on this committee:
With 30 million visits last year, Missouri libraries are an important resource for many people across the state. Polls show that the people of this state consider libraries to be an essential part of their communities. It’s not the will of the Missouri people to see their libraries cut.
Libraries provide internet access to those who otherwise wouldn’t have it. Increasingly, reliable internet access is central to the maintenance of equal opportunity and access to education, economic resources, and an active voice in our process of governance.
Libraries are essential partners in education. School libraries provide resources beyond mere textbooks. Public libraries provide access to an expanded collection of resources beyond what school libraries can offer, as well as resources for continuing self-education and personal development. Without these expanded collections, learning opportunities in our communities are greatly reduced.
Libraries foster a love a reading at all ages. Early childhood reading, in particular, has been shown to be a powerful determining factor in ongoing academic and lifetime career success. With year-round reading programs and family programs, libraries allow children to learn and grow even when school isn’t in session.
Libraries are integral in helping many people find employment. There is a strong correlation between the popularity of reading at all ages and across all demographic groups, and the overall economic health of a community. The economic return on investment for libraries is among the highest of any public service.
And as we saw in Ferguson, Missouri, libraries provide a safe space for people who need one. Libraries are anchors for communities in crisis.
The public library system in this country was conceived as a centerpiece for the promulgation and maintenance of our democratic society. Library funding speaks to the heart of who we are as a people.
As you are meeting, please consider restoring the $3.1 million in real money so that people in rural areas can continue to access the internet and please restore the $3.5 million general revenue fund to libraries. Without this money, libraries across the state, and the people who depend on them, will suffer.
MISSOURI CONSTITUTION, Article IX (Education),
“It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state to promote the establishment and development of free public libraries and to accept the obligation of their support by the state and its subdivisions and municipalities in such manner as may be provided by law. When any such subdivision or municipality supports a free library, the general assembly shall grant aid to such public library in such manner and in such amounts as may be provided by law.”
(The email I sent to the senators was adapted from a template written Wick Thomas, Teen Associate in Youth & Family Engagement at the Kansas City Public Library. Much of the content is his.)