Libraries express concern over proposed budget cuts

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)-- It’s been two weeks since President Trump released his preliminary 2018 budget proposal, which details many of the changes the president wants to make to the federal government's spending.

If President Donald Trump's budget proposal goes through, libraries say it might be tougher to serve their communities. His proposed budget, released earlier this month would eliminate funding for independent agencies, including the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

The IMLS has a $230 million budget that's used to assist libraries and museums across the country.

Following the president’s budget proposal, the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire put out a call on its website, asking patrons to contact their lawmakers and voice their concerns about eliminating funding for the institute of museum and library services.

Library staff say grants distributed from the agency are used to fund a variety of programming and resources.

“There is a lot of research behind the programming that’s developed. So the program we are offering and the training has been vetted through research,” L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library director Pamela Westby explained.

Libraries are able to provide resources and hands-on activities partly because of federal funding the IMLS distributes to states and competitive grants. That's money libraries use to not only maintain some basic services but to provide a way for communities to try out new technologies they might not be able to access.

“Without those funds to take a risk or to pilot a new program we will be slowing down our innovation and that affects our community,” Westby said.

The Eau Claire public library put out a call on its website, asking patrons to contact their lawmakers and voice their concerns about eliminating funding for the IMLS.

“A phone call to Tammy Baldwin or Ron Johnson does make a difference,” Westby explained.

While President Trump's budget is still just a proposal, the Indianhead Federated Library System, which provides resources to more than 50 libraries across Western Wisconsin, says cuts to funding could be devastating when it comes to local libraries sharing resources.

“We would have to make some adjustments in the services we offer. We want to be able to maintain everything that we do for our libraries,” director John Thompson said.

WEAU 13 News reached out to the White House for comment on President Trump's budget and have not heard back.

Congressional committees in both the house and the senate will soon start holding hearings on the proposed budget, which needs to be passed by the September 30th deadline.

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