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Opinion >  Letters

Time running out for library funding opportunity

Spokane loves its libraries and voters have shown support by approving a bond to build three new libraries and renovate four libraries. We’ve just completed two projects at Hillyard and The Hive and the dividends of this investment will be seen in our community for generations to come.

Sadly, this is an opportunity many communities don’t have. But they soon could with the Build America’s Libraries Act. Congress has a September 15 deadline to allocate funding for the budget resolution package and libraries must be included.

The Build America’s Libraries Act would dedicate $5 billion for the modernization and renovation of libraries nationwide, with an estimated $105 million for Washington State.

This legislation would increase library broadband capacity and provide funding for capital improvements for aging buildings - many of which are not equipped to support and shelter citizens from climate change - like extreme weather or smoke. It would also ensure that library facilities nationwide are accessible to patrons with physical disabilities.

Thanks to the confidence of Spokane voters and collaboration with leadership across the city, we have modernized our infrastructure with new HVAC systems and new roofing. We’ve added 470% more meeting space, new technology, and better digital and physical collections.

The average American library building is over 40 years old, but Congress last dedicated construction funding for them in 1996. This budget reconciliation package offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that libraries can meet the needs of every community, not just those with the most resources.

Andrew Chanse, Executive Director of Spokane Public Libraries

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