Deborah Littrell

Director of Library Development and Networking

TSLAC to Appeal Loss of Federal Funds for Statewide Library Programs

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 • Austin, TX • News Release

On September 30 the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) was notified by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) of its decision to deny Texas’ request for a waiver from a state funding requirement prescribed by the federal government. The waiver would allow TSLAC to continue to receive its full allotment of Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding, which the agency uses for programs to enhance library services across Texas. TSLAC will appeal the decision.

The waiver is needed because of what happened two years ago. During the 82nd Texas Legislature in 2011, TSLAC, which receives both state and federal funds, had a 64% reduction in state dollars beginning with the 2012-2013 biennium. This resulted in a drastic cutback of the agency’s state-supported library programs; services such as the TexShare databases, interlibrary loan, competitive library grants, and continuing education and consulting remained, however, thanks primarily to federal dollars.

IMLS requires that a state government show “maintenance of effort” by financially supporting its statewide library services.

“We strongly encourage you to continue to monitor State funding for library services to ensure that Federal funds enhance and not replace State support,” wrote IMLS, citing the state library’s considerable budget cuts during the 82nd Legislature. As a result of these cuts, TSLAC's expenditures in 2012 were 67% lower than the level required.

TSLAC will continue to receive LSTA funds from IMLS, but at a drastically reduced level. The federal award to the state library currently averages $10 million per fiscal year, but starting in 2015, that award is projected to fall to approximately $3 million annually. Without a waiver the annual award will be reduced for at least two years until the level of state funding reaches the required level for maintenance of effort.

“This reduction puts many of our statewide library services, which Texas libraries rely on, in jeopardy,” said Edward Seidenberg, TSLAC’s Interim Director and Librarian. “We are hopeful we can continue to make a case for IMLS to waive the maintenance of effort requirement for us.”

TSLAC will appeal the federal agency’s decision by submitting a written notice to the director of IMLS by November 29th. TSLAC has already developed a process to consult with constituents and to set funding priorities in the event that a waiver is not granted.

All are invited to visit for information and documentation of the process and to submit comments using the email provided.