“Public libraries like ours provide critical resources that support families and change lives. Representative Morales’ bill will benefit every public library in the state,” said Cheryl Space, Director of the Community Libraries of Providence.
Existing state law specifies that the state contribute to each city and town in an amount equal to 25% of municipal expenditures and 25% of any expenditures from a library’s private endowment that supplements that expenditure. But until 2022, that requirement had been ignored for over a decade. While the governor’s initial FY2023 budget proposal had proposed funding of only 21.8%, an advocacy campaign led by Representative Morales and library supporters across the state helped ensure the final budget included the required 25% funding.
“I’m overjoyed we were able to fully fund our libraries last year because the impact has been evident as dozens of libraries across our state now have access to additional resources, services, and opportunities to further serve our community. Most importantly, our library staff and patrons feel genuinely supported and heard by our state government,” said Representative Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence). “Public libraries are the heart of our communities and a public resource for all people, regardless of background or socioeconomic status. Therefore, it is in all of our interests to ensure our libraries are well-funded and have the resources needed to remain strong and vibrant in the years ahead.”
Representative Morales’ legislation would require that the state fulfill its obligation again for Fiscal Year 2024. By introducing the bill before the governor’s budget proposal, Representative Morales hopes to demonstrate the legislature’s continued support for libraries. The House bill has over 40 cosponsors, from both Democrats and Republicans.
“My sincere hope is that the governor will include full funding of our public libraries in his budget,” Representative Morales said. “But if not, this important piece of legislation will help ensure our libraries get the funding they need.”
“We are so grateful to Representative Morales for his work last year, securing the funding we need and for introducing this bill to ensure a strong future for our libraries,” Colin McCullough, Director of the West Warwick Public Library, said. “We strive to provide safe places for people of all ages to gather, and full state funding will guarantee that every Rhode Island library will have more to invest in vital resources for their communities in the upcoming year, especially in these challenging times for families, learners and job seekers.”