We write as concerned citizens of Berwick and as members of the Berwick Library Association Board. On March 16, President Trump released his proposed budget for 2018. To our significant concern, the budget eliminates all funding for the Institute of Museums and Library Services.

The institute administers Library School Technology Act funds. Congress appropriates funding for the Library School Technology Act program; it is the primary annual source of funding for libraries in the federal budget, and funds are matched at the state level. Maine, on average, receives $1.2 million annually to administer the Library Development and Outreach Services programs.

Library School Technology Act funding supports staff hiring and program costs. If this funding were eliminated, the impact would be felt throughout the state and our town. Such a loss would diminish our board’s and our library director’s ability to deliver our programs.

Without Library School Technology Act subsidies, we would never be able to afford to provide high-speed internet to our patrons. It also subsidizes MARVEL!, Maine’s Virtual Library, an online research catalog used by students, teachers, researchers and patrons throughout Maine to help patrons navigate the sea of “fake news.”

Continued funding through the federal-state partnership is critical.

Our library is the community’s center. There are reading programs; it is a place for volunteers to offer their time. We foresee a devastating loss to our community should federal funds be terminated.

We ask that citizens ensure that Library School Technology Act funding is included in the federal budget so that the creative services from the Berwick Public Library to the town may continue. Please contact Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Angus King, and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin and express your support for continued Institute of Museums and Library Services funding.

Warren Clement

president, Berwick Library Association Board

Sharon Kelly

director, Berwick Public Library