When I wrote Friday morning’s post about the $25 million George W. Bush wants to take from RIF, I didn’t realize that another line in his proposed budget would freeze funding for America’s school libraries, keeping it at the same $19.1 million amount that was earmarked for 2008.
“Although the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program was authorized at $250 million in 2001, funding has never been appropriated at that level,” reports School Library Journal‘s Debra Lau Whelan. “Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, the federal program provides funding to public school libraries to update collections, expand Internet connections, buy new technology, provide professional development for media specialists, and extend library hours. The program was funded at $19.5 million in FY 2006 and 2007, slightly more than its current level.”
At least Bush is planning to put some more money into public libraries, but if we’re serious about finding ways to keep America’s young people engaged as readers as they hit middle school and beyond, I would think that school libraries would have a vital role to play, don’t you?