State Funding for Public Libraries Uncertain

Library Funding Graphic

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania legislature approved a five-month spending plan that allocated flat funding to most state agencies for the first five months of the 2020-2021 fiscal year. While the Department of Education received 100% of its funding for schools this year, public libraries have not received full funding yet. The remaining seven months will be discussed by Pennsylvania legislators this November. While lawmakers will meet again to discuss funding decisions for the remainder of the 2020-2021 fiscal year, there is no guarantee that libraries will receive their remaining 7/12 of funding.


2015 public library funding pie chart
Pennsylvania Library Association 2015 Chart

What does this mean for libraries?

The three main sources of funding are local government, private fundraising, and state government. According to a 2015 chart provided by the Pennsylvania Library Association, state funds make up approximately 16% of a library’s annual source of revenue.

If Pennsylvania lawmakers decide not to fund the remaining seven-month budget, Berks libraries stand to lose a combined total of $870,000, equating to a projected 10% cut of their annual operating budgets and additional resources.


How can you take action?

Pennsylvania public libraries are asking their supporters to reach out to their state Representatives and Senators with a unified message: “We support full, flat funding for libraries.”

Libraries need your help now more than ever to make sure libraries are fully funded. Before the legislature meets in November to discuss the remaining 2020-2021 fiscal year budget, make sure your voice is heard by contacting your local legislators.


blue button with PA state iconHow to contact your local your Pennsylvania Senator or Representative:

  • Visit the Pennsylvania General Assembly website to find who represents your district.
  • Click on the name of the person you wish to contact, and you will be brought to their member page with their contact information available.
  • Click the email icon for their email address or find the phone number of their local office on the left-hand column.

Tips for contacting your legislator:

  • Emails are good, but calls are even better.
  • Don’t expect to speak with our legislator directly. On most occasions, phones are answered by office staff who will pass along your message.
  • Make it personal. Share how libraries have impacted your life or how you currently use your library.
  • Be concise and specific. Use the below template to outline your support for libraries.
  • Thank him/her for their time.


Message Template:

Hello, my name is ______. I am a constituent of Sen./Rep. [NAME]. Please pass along that we encourage him/her to support full level funding for libraries this fiscal year. The library is very important to me because _________. Thank you for your time.