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How Proposed IMLS Cuts Will Affect New Mexico Public Libraries

President Trump’s proposed fiscal year 18 budget includes the elimination of federal arts and humanities programs including PBS, National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Included in this budget is the elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) which, among other things, provides funding to state library agencies across the country.

The New Mexico State Library (NMSL) receives annually around $1.4 million from the IMLS. This translates to $.70 per person, and this money pays for a variety of programs. These programs are:

  • 3 bookmobiles: provide rural and under-served communities in 25 of 33 counties in the state with library materials on a monthly basis.
  • Books-by-Mail:a book delivery service offered to rural residents of New Mexico who do not live near a State Library Rural Bookmobile stop or live near a public library. The service is also available to individuals in New Mexico who are homebound because of a physical disability and unable to visit a local library or people who can only read large print books due to a visual disability. The books are mailed to the user and are returned to the State Library by postage-paid mail
  • Library for the Blind or Physically Handicapped: responsible for meeting the reading and information needs of nearly 3,000 New Mexico citizens who are blind, visually impaired, physically handicapped, or reading disabled. Patrons are issued playback equipment that allows them to access books, magazines, and other material in alternate formats (digital cartridge, cassette, Braille, and electronic text). The collection focuses mainly on recreational reading, and contains more than 60,000 titles in a variety of genres.  Patrons may also download titles directly from the National Library Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped through BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download).
  • Inter Library Loan:a free service to public libraries which allows libraries to borrow books from other libraries for the needs of their patrons.
  • Summer Reading Program: provides workshops and materials for public library staff. This allows the libraries to provide programs that are attended by over 91,000 people annually.
  • El Portal online research databases: includes Gale Virtual Reference Library, ChiltonLibrary, Kids InfoBits, Newsbank and many more which are free to every resident of New Mexico, even without a public library card.
  • Brainfuse HelpNow and JobNow: HelpNow provides free online one-on-one tutoring for students grades K-12 as well as a writing center and other homework resources. JobNow provides resume writing resources, job hunting help and job postings.

The proposed budget still needs Congressional approval before these cuts are enacted. From State Librarian, Kathleen Peiffer, “The American Library Association has already issued a strong statement against this budget recommendation, and the chief officers of state library agencies are already preparing materials on the importance of the grants-to-states program to share with their legislators at National Library Legislative day on May 2.”

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