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Urge Congress to #BuildLibraries During United for Infrastructure Week

by on May 5, 2021

This year, May 10-14, 2021 marks United for Infrastructure Week. This week presents a wonderful opportunity for libraries to position themselves as critical infrastructure, and to advocate for the Build America’s Libraries Act to support that role. The Build America’s Libraries Act, introduced in the Senate and House by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), and Representatives Andy Levin (D-MI) and Don Young (R-AK), respectively, makes the case for providing $5 billion to repair, modernize, and construct library facilities in underserved and marginalized communities. If these funding levels were included in the final infrastructure package, upgrades to the nation’s library infrastructure to address challenges such as natural disasters, COVID-19, broadband capacity, environmental hazards, and accessibility barriers would be supported.

The topic of infrastructure, and the need to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure has been at the forefront of major discussions in our communities and in the hands of decision-makers this year. In late March, President Biden unveiled his infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Plan, and over the next few weeks, Congress is tasked to make key decisions about the scope of what will be included in the final infrastructure package. To the disappointment of ALA and the library community, funding for library facilities was not included in the President’s proposal. While this doesn’t signify that libraries won’t be included in the final package, it does show how crucial it is that the White House and Congress understand: libraries are part of our infrastructure, and the time to invest is now.  

As United for Infrastructure Week commences, ALA has provided library advocates with special templates and resources hosted on the Build America’s Libraries homepage to celebrate the week and to communicate to lawmakers the urgency for libraries to be included in the infrastructure package. Some actions you can take include:

  • Contacting President Biden and your elected leaders through ALA’s Action Center
  • Sharing photos or a message on social media and tagging your legislators
    • ALA has created an informative template on how to craft compelling social media posts during United for Infrastructure Week.
    • The example Tweet below from Blue Island Library in Illinois shows one impactful way to illustrate the need for this designated funding for infrastructure upgrades in your library.
Image of a tweet from Blue Island (IL) Public LIbrary. Two pix of library and text says: Ready for Infrastructure Week! Blue Island Public Library free broadband access keeps us connected (even though our roof leaks).

As advocates across the country utilize this week to communicate the importance of infrastructure in our communities, library advocates can share their personal stories to amplify the need for library facilities to be fairly recognized as a critical part of our nation’s infrastructure.