McEntee Calls for Increased Funding for Libraries

“Libraries are a Vital Resource During Economic Downturn”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Washington, D.C.—Gerald W. McEntee, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO, today called for increased funding for the nation’s libraries, noting their importance to communities and workers coping with the downturn in the national economy.

“Our libraries must get the necessary funding to meet the needs of working families,” said McEntee. “In economically difficult times, libraries are more important than ever to our communities. Funding our libraries is a critical investment in our future. That is why it is essential that mayors and decision-makers in every community provide library workers with the pay, support and respect that they have earned.”

“As the nation feels the pain of the weakening economy, people are turning to their libraries for resources to find employment and public services, to advance their education, and to learn,” said McEntee. “AFSCME salutes the library workers who make more than 123,000 libraries across the country happen.”

McEntee noted that cutting library budgets has a serious impact on the nation’s economic future. “At a time when communities need the resources our nation’s libraries provide, too many jurisdictions are taking a knife to library budgets. That is a major mistake, and we are going to fight those budget cuts,” McEntee said. “When the economy is in trouble, Americans need their libraries more than ever.”

McEntee’s call came on National Library Workers Day, a day set aside for communities, schools and universities across the country to celebrate the contributions of librarians and library workers. “Library workers have shown tremendous resiliency during these difficult times. They have adapted to the demands of the digital age, and kept our libraries running smoothly, often on shoestring budgets,” he continued.

AFSCME represents more than 10,000 workers in libraries nationwide, more than any other union. AFSCME has been a leading advocate for pay increases for library workers and for funding increases for the public facilities they operate. This year, the union is distributing more than 60,000 bookmarks at libraries nationwide to commemorate the work of librarians and library workers.

Earlier this month, the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA) announced that McEntee and AFSCME will be honored as ALA-APA Angels at the American Library Association Annual Conference in June. This honor recognizes AFSCME’s efforts to help ALA-APA grow and flourish in its missions of providing certification and supporting better salaries. New York Public Library Guild Local 1930 of District Council 37 AFSCME, AFL-CIO, represented by President Carol Thomas and Treasurer Nina Manning, will also be among those honored as ALA-APA Angels.

For more information, contact the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO: 1625 L Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036-5687, Telephone (202) 429-1145 Fax (202) 429-1120.