The Office of Library and Information Services (OLIS) and the Rhode Island Library Association (RILA) sponsored a "town hall" virtual discussion with Senator Jack Reed on Monday, April 5th, to celebrate National Library Week. Discussion centered on how libraries have adapted during the coronavirus pandemic, how we safely reopened our libraries, and some of the impactful programming we provided to the public during the last year.
Senator Reed spoke to attendees about the introduction of the Library Stabilization Fund Act, which was incorporated into the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and will provide $200 million to the nation’s libraries through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Senator Reed has also introduced the Build America’s Libraries Act; if passed, this legislation will provide federal funding for library construction for the first time in over two decades. Panelists at the event included Cheryl Space (director, Providence Community Library); Ryan Brennan (director, Rogers Free Library); Brigitte Hopkins and Bill Lancellotta (executive director and assistant director, Westerly Library); Amber Bliss (head of information services, West Warwick Public Library) and Ed Garcia (director, Cranston Public Library). OLIS Chief Library Officer Karen Mellor and RILA President Julie Holden moderated the event.
The theme for National Library Week (April 4-10, 2021), “Welcome to Your Library,” promoted the idea that libraries extend far beyond the four walls of a building – and that everyone is welcome to use their services. During the pandemic, libraries have been going above and beyond to adapt to our changing world by expanding their resources and continuing to meet the needs of their users. We are grateful to Senator Reed and his staff for taking the time to celebrate libraries during this special week and for continuously supporting funding for library services.