Reid Sponsors Bill To Fund School Libraries

February 28, 2001

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid has co-sponsored a new bill to increase funding for school libraries around the country. The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries Act is designed to ensure that students at all schools have the resources they need to develop reading, writing, research, and computer skills.

“Every student in Nevada should have a good place to study, and access to up-to-date books and computers,” said Reid. “We must give our children the tools they need to learn.”

The bill will increase funding for libraries, with funding directed towards those schools with the greatest need. It will authorize $500 million dollars in federal funds to help school libraries acquire books, pay for technology – including internet links, train teachers and librarians, and set up educational activities in school libraries outside of school hours – including weekends and summer vacation.

Congress approved money for school libraries in the 1960’s and 1970’s under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, but many school libraries around the country have not been able to substantially update their materials since that funding stopped. School librarians around the country have told Congress about resource books on their shelves that have no information about the breakup of the Soviet Union or the end of apartheid in South Africa.

Research has also linked better-equipped school libraries to better student performance on reading and other achievement tests, and has linked low literacy rates to elevated school dropout rates. Lawmakers hope that improving students’ reading abilities will help convince them to stay in school. Reid has also introduced another bill to increase school attendance, the Dropout Prevention Act.