Librarian Act Would Address Librarian Shortage (Rep. Xavier Becerra)

In the Information Age, more than ever before, our nation's public and school libraries form an invaluable part of our communities. Together they offer crucial access to education, skills training and reliable information in a nurturing environment. Libraries are particularly important in low-income communities, where resources are most scarce. Public and school libraries are critical for the educational well-being of our students, the skills of our workers, and our country's future in an increasingly competitive global market.

Unfortunately, these important institutions are quickly losing their most valuable resource: their librarians. Over the next four years 25 percent of currently working librarians will retire and there are simply not enough young people training in the library sciences to fulfill this much needed role in our schools and communities. Librarians are highly trained information specialists, requiring specialized preparation and masters' degrees. However, with the cost of education rising and salaries that can start as low as $22,000, industries that recruit workers with similar skills are winning out.

That is why I introduced H.R. 1877, the Librarian Incentive to Boost Recruitment and Retention In Areas of Need (LIBRARIAN) Act on April 17, National Library Worker Day, 2007. This legislation will encourage students to become librarians in public libraries in impoverished areas or public schools eligible for Title I assistance. These individuals would receive forgiveness for up to 30 percent of their Perkins loans. An identical Senate companion bill, S. 1121, was introduced by Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) on the same day. I am proud to say that this important piece of legislation is fully supported by the American Library Association. For more details, click here to visit my LIBRARIAN Act Web page where you can read my floor statement introducing the legislation in the House and track the progress of the bill, and much more information.