Kaine Cosponsors Bill to Modernize Libraries, Connect More Americans to Opportunity
WASHINGTON, D.C. —U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, cosponsored the Build America's Libraries Act to invest $5 billion over three years to build and modernize public libraries to better serve communities, boost economic development, and connect more Americans to opportunities for advancement. The legislation, originally introduced by Senator Jack Reed, would help library facilities address needs due to COVID–19 and enable libraries to better engage their communities, particularly in underserved areas. Funds may go toward constructing new libraries, building additions, improving accessibility, updating technology and broadband infrastructure, enhancing energy efficiency standards, and renovating facilities to better meet evolving learning and information needs.
If passed, Virginia libraries would receive an estimated $117 million to support renovation and construction, with underserved communities prioritized in funding allocation. In addition to the funds distributed to states, $150 million would be distributed nationwide from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to federally recognized tribes. The seven federally recognized tribes in Virginia would be eligible to apply for that funding.
“Our public libraries play a vital role in communities by providing a reliable place for people to access educational and career development opportunities, mental and financial health resources, and so much more,” said Kaine. “Adequate funding for these institutions will be crucial in getting our country back on track as we continue to build back better.”
Along with Kaine and Reed, the bill is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Ben Cardin (D-MD).
The House version of this bill is led by U.S. Congressman Andy Levin (D-MI-9).
The Build America’s Libraries Act is supported by the following organizations: the American Library Association (ALA); American Indian Library Association; American Institute of Architects; American Society of Interior Designers; Association for Rural & Small Libraries; Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums; Chief Officers of State Library Agencies; Council of State Archivists; Education Market Association; International WELL Building Institute; National Coalition for History; National Coalition for Literacy; National Digital Inclusion Alliance; National Summer Learning Association; Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition; and Urban Libraries Council.