Podcast: What federal funding means for public libraries

A conversation with Laura Damon-Moore of the Library As Incubator Project.

A conversation with Laura Damon-Moore of the Library As Incubator Project.

Just before Donald Trump’s inauguration, The Hill reported that his administration is planning to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Together, these two agencies have provided millions of dollars to support art projects across the country since they were created in the mid 1960s. In fact, since 2010 alone, they’ve allocated more than $20 million to projects right here in Wisconsin.

A recent story here at Tone Madison looked at the broad impact eliminating NEA would have in Wisconsin. But this week I want to focus on a more specific area that would feel any big changes in federal arts funding. That would be public libraries.

Public Libraries, including the ones right here in Madison, have been undergoing something of a renaissance lately—for instance, the Madison Public Library has launched a new arts program called The Bubbler, started a digital library of local music, and opened a media lab that provides free training in all sorts of audio, video, and web production. Those changes have a lot to do with federal money, some of it from the NEA and some from another federal agency called the Institute of Museum and Library Services. It’s not clear whether Trump and/or the Republican majority in Congress will target IMLS, but now-Speaker and then-House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan called for its elimination in 2014.

Madison-based librarian Laura Damon-Moore tracks some of the unusual and innovative things libraries are doing at the Library As Incubator Project, a site she co-founded. Damon-Moore joined me to discuss the role IMLS and other federal arts agencies have played in these developments, and how eliminating them would impact libraries across the country. Give our conversation a listen below.

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