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Act to Ensure Libraries Part of Infrastructure Act

by Shawnda Hines, Asst. Director, Communications, Public Policy & Advocacy Office, American Library Association, shines@alawash.org on July 18, 2021

Congress is finalizing the nation’s infrastructure investments. Libraries must be included.

Within the next two weeks Congress will make historic decisions about how to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. ALA is asking advocates to act to ensure libraries aren’t left out.

The bipartisan Build America’s Libraries Act would provide $5 billion to upgrade libraries’ outdated technology and electrical infrastructure, fix leaky roofs and faulty HVAC systems, expand overcrowded buildings, and make libraries fully accessible to people with disabilities. See sample tweet below.

Sample Tweet – Blue Island Public Library

Libraries are an essential lifeline for internet and technology access, children’s literacy and educational success, workforce development, and lifelong learning. We cannot achieve digital equity, support at-risk students, or reconnect dislocated workers to jobs without investing in libraries. Modernizing our nation’s infrastructure must mean modernizing our library buildings.

Since the Build America’s Libraries Act was introduced in the House and Senate in early 2021, thousands of library advocates have contacted their members of Congress. The bipartisan legislation has more than 150 cosponsors in both houses of Congress.  

Right now, ALA is calling on library advocates around the nation to make one final push: to urge federal legislators to include $5 billion for the Build America’s Libraries Act in the 2022 budget resolution and reconciliation instructions.

Great libraries are made up of great library workers, great collections and technology and programs, great volunteers and supporters, and great buildings. But the federal government has not provided funding for library facilities for 25 years. The $5 billion Build America’s Libraries Act is an exciting opportunity to help ensure our library buildings are great places to work and great places to learn.