Status of Municipal Council Resolutions in Support of Full Funding of the 25% Grant-in-Aid Program by the State

Calling all Directors! Calling all Trustees! This is a call to action. RILA’s Executive Board and Legislative Action Committee are working diligently with our lobbyist in the hopes of getting full funding for the Grant-in-Aid Program for public libraries.  As many of you may know, the State provides financial support to libraries in accordance with RIGL 29-6. In order to receive funding, each community’s public libraries must fulfill the Minimum Standards & Regulations for RI Public Libraries, which were last updated in 2013.


If the public libraries in a community meet the standards as required, they are eligible to receive State funding up to 25% of the municipal appropriation as well as 25% of their endowment appropriation based on figures from two fiscal years prior. For example, we are all diligently working on (and hoping for) our FY2017 municipal appropriation requests. If the Grant-in-Aid line item in the State Budget was fully funded, each community would receive funding from the State at the level of 25% of the municipal appropriation in FY2015. Similarly, libraries with endowments would also receive 25% of the endowment appropriation in FY2015.


Unfortunately, after less than a decade of fulfilling this goal, the State level funded this line item in 2008. This has generally meant public libraries have only received Grant-in-Aid at a level of about 22% each fiscal year. This is permitted by the law relating to such funding, since there is an exception allowed for when the funding the full 25% cannot be achieved.  The Great Recession definitely made such funding a challenge for the State.


RILA thinks now is a good time to approach the State about returning funding levels back up to the full 25% requirement that is part of RIGL 29-6. Members of the Executive Board, the Legislative Action Committee, and our lobbyist have been meeting with members of the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office about the issue. Those conversations have been promising, but I would like to ask directors and boards of trustees to consider contributing to the effort.


In 2014, Theresa Coish of the Middletown Library wrote a resolution, which was passed by her town council, which supported the idea of the State once again fully funding the Grant-in-Aid program. A number of other libraries have opted to try and duplicate that effort on a broader level this year. The resolutions have generally highlighted how much additional State moneys the library/libraries in the town would have received if the Grant-in-Aid program was fully funded. Additionally, the resolutions have included a council request to the General Assembly contingent representing that town/city to support and promote the additional funding. One would think this would be an easy argument for most councils to accept since it would allow for one of their departments to receive additional funds without the town having to find a way to pay for them.


RILA is asking every public library’s director and board of trustee to reach out to their town/city council with the hopes of passing a resolution to provide a united request from all the communities of Rhode Island to the State indicating they believe the State should fully fund this program to the full requirements of the law. We are happy to provide a sample resolution in the form of the resolution that was passed by the Cumberland Town Council. You can find it here. If you have any questions about the process that was used in Cumberland, please feel free to contact RILA President Aaron Coutu at president@rilibraries.org or 333-2552 x128.


If you would like to see the text of all the resolutions passed to date, you can find them on this page.

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