The state legislature needs to hear from you. Help keep libraries on the agenda in Jefferson City.
Missouri libraries serve every resident, but funding from Jefferson City for libraries remains woefully low. It’s now time to start to fix these funding problems. As the state’s library association, the Missouri Library Association knows what’s needed. Please help keep libraries on the agenda in the General Assembly by sending a 2020 Virtual Advocacy Day email to your members of the state House and Senate today.
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Critical parts of Missouri’s library infrastructure need proper funding to fully support our communities. From early literacy services and workforce development to summer learning and online access, public libraries are there to provide a hand up instead of a handout. Public libraries use funds from the Athletes and Entertainers (A&E) Tax to purchase books, eBooks, magazines, DVDs, and audiobooks, but that program is critically under-funded. The Remote Electronic Access for Libraries (REAL) Program supports library costs for internet access and online resources, and it needs stability.
Total library funding in Missouri has decreased significantly in the past 10 years. State aid to all Missouri libraries has decreased by half a million dollars. Funding to the REAL Program has dropped by $1.1 million, almost 50%. Since 2010, Missouri libraries have received only 15% of the amount authorized from the Athletes and Entertainers fund.
The Missouri Library Association’s priorities are really clear:
Support the full funding of the Athletes and Entertainers fund. In FY2020, publicly-funded libraries received only $776,000 of the $4 million in funding required by state law. Closing this funding shortfall would provide a critical boost to the programming and collections budget for each and every library in the state.
Support $3,504,001 in state aid to Missouri libraries. This is level-funding for FY2021 and would provide much-needed stability for all publicly-funded libraries in our state.
- Support the funding of the “Remote Electronic Access for Libraries” Program (REAL). Funding through the REAL Program allows libraries to provide broadband to Missourians, especially in rural areas. REAL funds also provide the only online research databases for many libraries that the public access for reliable information.
Over 91% of Missourians live in a place with a publicly funded library. They visit libraries 50 million times - in person and online - in 2019. Last summer 164,667 kids participated in summer learning programs. 125 library districts offered early literacy programs, helping children from birth to age 6 develop literacy skills.
These are the kind of smart, high-impact work our legislators need to hear about. Please take the next step and send a message to your state legislators today.
A donation of $10-$25 funds our political actions for libraries
The Missouri State Constitution specifies that funds will be appropriated each year to support public libraries, to help pay for materials, technology, staff, and other costs. The General Assembly needs to hear from you about what these priorities should be. Without your support - and support from people like you all across the state - libraries will fall to the bottom of the list. Please take the important step and send an email to your state Senator and Representative today.