Recently, President Obama established National Information Literacy month, an important recognition of the skills our students need to develop in the information rich environment in which they live. The proclamation points out "Rather than merely possessing data, we must also learn the skills necessary to acquire, collate, and evaluate information for any situation. This new type of literacy also requires competency with communication technologies, including computers and mobile devices that can help in our day-to-day decisionmaking. National Information Literacy Awareness Month highlights the need for all Americans to be adept in the skills necessary to effectively navigate the Information Age."

However, the newly proposed 2011 Federal Budget does not include any funding designated specifically for school libraries, and in fact eliminates the Improving Literacy for School Libraries grant program, which has been in place for seven years, providing grant monies to libraries across the country.

Money that was provided for these grants has instead been consolidated into other programs, despite the fact that the Department of Education's own 2009 study demonstrated that students participating in schools receiving grants "are performing higher on state reading tests than students in schools that do not take part in the program. Additionally, the study stated that in schools that participated in the program in 2003-04, the percentage of students who met or exceeded the proficiency requirements on state reading assessments increased by an extra 2.7 percentage points over the increase observed among nonparticipating schools during the same time period.

School libraries previously involved in the grant have increased staffing, initiated reading programs and literacy programs, lengthened hours, provided family literacy programs in rural and impoverished areas, improved technology access, and improved print collections of libraries.

Connectivity, literacy and the collaborative skills that libraries help build are increasingly important for our students. When libraries are not specifically funded in federal initiatives, often monies are spent elsewhere.

During budget deliberations, we urge you to renew the Improving Literacy for School Libraries grant and to be sure that funding for school libraries is specified. As an article in Education Week(Feb. 10) demonstrates, libraries are a vital component of a vibrant learning environment for students and provide a learning hub that serves the entire school, aiding students in global literacies.

Please fight for the importance that school libraries serve in our schools by supporting the Improving Literacy for School Libraries grant and supporting increased funding for school libraries.

Thank you.