The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has won its appeal to keep its full allotment of federal funds awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Due to reductions in state funding in 2013, Texas was at risk of losing as much as $1.7 million in federal funds that is funneled to the state’s libraries through competitive grants, interlibrary loans, digital content and other statewide programs.
“These are vital funds for the development of innovative library services to support Texas’ information-based economy,” stated Mark Smith, director and librarian at TSLAC. “We thank the Institute of Museum and Library Services for its consideration and approval of our waiver request,” remarked Smith. “This is the second time the IMLS has waived our maintenance of effort requirements despite shortcomings in state level funding.”
Last fiscal year the agency succeeded in keeping its full $10.7 million allotment in federal funding through an appeal to waive the Maintenance of Effort requirement for the 2012 state budget year. Funding is through the federal Library Services and Technology Act which makes grants to state libraries across the nation and is dependent on the maintenance of effort of state funding. TSLAC had applied for a waiver of the 2012 shortfall in state funds in September of 2013, was notified that the waiver would not be granted and appealed that decision which was granted in January, 2014. The 2013 budget reduction was much less, but not insignificant.
The agency was notified this week that the waiver request for the 2013 funds would be granted with the caveat to monitor state funding for library services to ensure that federal support enhance, not replace, state support.
“This decision will allow TSLAC to continue to improve access to information and invest in communities of all sizes across our state,” said Smith. Programs supported through TSLAC include job force education, digital classroom resources and even Braille and audio reading materials made available to the more than 600,000 members of Texas’ vision impaired community.
Any future cuts to the current state level funding for TSLAC would jeopardize federal funding and result in a reduction of programs that benefit countless citizens across the state of Texas. Members of the library community on the state and national level will be closely monitoring the budget proceedings of the upcoming legislature with hopes that these vital programs receive the support they require to continue.