Federal Budget Cuts Could Impact County Library

Federal Budget Cuts Could Impact County Library

[Whatcom County, WA] Cuts proposed in President Trump’s 2018 budget would negatively impact more than 127,690 Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) cardholders and residents across Washington State. The president’s proposed budget for libraries would eliminate all funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the only Federal program which provides funding to the Washington State Library, which in turn, provides services and grants to WCLS and other public libraries. Washington State Library currently receives $3.2 million in funding per year from IMLS.  In order to receive those funds, the Washington State Library provides $1.00 in funding for every $1.37 of IMLS funds.

If enacted, WCLS would be immediately impacted through cuts to funding for the Washington Anytime Library consortium which provides access to eBooks and eAudiobooks, elimination of grant funds for local history projects such as the Washington Rural Heritage Mount Baker Foothills collection, and cuts to local residents’ services, including the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, administered by the Washington State Library.

Mrs. Dickson is listening closely to her audiobook to catch every word. The book and player are provided by Washington Talking Book and Braille Library.

Margaret Dickson, 95, of Bellingham, listens to audiobooks every night on a special device provided by the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library (WTBBL). “Those talking books are my life!” she says with emotion.  “I save them for the evenings so I have something to look forward to,” she explains.  “I learn the most interesting things.”  Dickson’s low vision limits her activities but audiobooks keep her mind sharp and engaged in the world around her.  WTBBL delivers audiobooks to Dickson and many other people in Whatcom County by mail each month.

“Our community was able to preserve and share an invaluable photographic legacy,” said Deming Library public services assistant Erin Suda. “An IMLS grant from the Washington State Library allowed us to partner with the Nesset Family Trust to digitize 115 photos of these pioneering immigrants and make the photos available online to the public and history researchers,” added Suda.

The use of WCLS’s digital materials, including eBooks and eAudiobooks, is growing faster than any other library collection. Aryn Whitewolf of Ferndale, WA is an avid user of audiobooks. “I couldn’t possibly afford to buy all the audiobooks I’ve gotten from libraries,” said Whitewolf. “I love the Washington Anytime Library consortium, which pools lots of other libraries’ eBook collections together to give me more choices,” she continued.

WCLS is joining other libraries across the state to help make the community aware of the impact these cuts would have on our local communities.