Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) cosponsored the Library Stabilization Fund Act introduced by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.), in an effort to help libraries nationwide respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and continue providing communities with needed services, resources, technology, and broadband access. This legislation would provide $2 billion in federal funding for public libraries nationwide through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The bill includes formula funding to states with a $10 million small state minimum, as well as funding to tribes and the establishment of a $200 million competitive grant program, all designed to help strengthen libraries’ ability to provide services to communities impacted by COVID-19.
“Local budget shortfalls caused by the coronavirus pandemic have forced libraries to furlough staff, make massive cuts and reduce operations at a time when their services are needed the most. I’m committed to ensuring Nevada’s libraries have the financial support needed to weather the current economic crisis, and that students have access to this critical resource as school districts continue distance learning.”
The $2 billion authorized by the Library Stabilization Fund Act would respond to and accelerate the recovery from the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus and address the social inequities that have been exacerbated during the crisis. Many minority or low-income Nevadans rely on libraries to act as a fully-funded resource to access computers, the Internet and materials needed for education, job searching, etc. They are also crucial to services provided by Workforce Connections. This bill would:
- Grant at least $10 million to the state of Nevada;
- Grant at least $45 million to Native American tribes and Native Hawaiians;
- Grant at least $40 million to compiling and researching COVID-19 related information and topics;
- Allow libraries to reopen and hire employees, while teaching new ways for employees to handle books and materials to ensure the containment of COVID-19;
- Allow libraries to safely provide electronic resources such as computers, printers, copiers, etc. while also providing help desks to offer technical support for electronics;
- Ensure access to early education materials;
- Ensure that residents have access to cultural, government, and community resources and services.
In March, Senator Cortez Masto supported the CARES Act, which included $50 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). These funds have gone to support Nevada’s libraries so they can continue to serve their communities. As an example of this support in Nevada, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe received $98,271 to increase staffing, improve access and maintain critical preservation work on the collections housed at the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum and Visitors Center.