The Library Services and Technology Act was passed and became P.L. 104-208 on September 30, 1996. LSTA built on the strengths of previous federal library programs, but included some major advantages and differences. While it retained the state-based approach from previous legislation, it sharpened the focus to two key priorities for libraries—information access through technology and information empowerment through special services. It also relocated library program offices from the Department of Education to a new Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The Library Services and Construction Act, throughout its history beginning in 1956 as the Library Services Act, has acted as a remarkable stimulus to a wide variety of library activities. The Federal role in support of libraries embodied in LSCA has allowed states considerable flexibility to adapt to state needs within federal priorities. Those priorities have included public library construction and renovation (most recently to provide access for the disabled); interlibrary cooperation and resources sharing; adaptation of new technologies for library services; outreach to special segments of the population such as the disadvantaged, those with disabilities, the elderly and homebound, those in institutions, those with limited English-speaking ability, those who need literacy services, those on Indian reservations and innovative services at child care centers and for latchkey children.
Libraries receive public support because it is not reasonable to expect any one person to purchase or possess all the information resources necessary for personal growth, education and research and work and community responsibilities. The public good which emerges from the provision and use of library resources flows freely beyond the boundaries of the institution, community or state which provides them. Further, access to the aggregate system of U.S. libraries, which librarians have created with federal encouragement and support, increases the public good beyond what any one library could ever supply, and makes support and improvement of library services a goal in the national interest.
The Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) is the only federal program exclusively for libraries. It is administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). State libraries use the funds to support statewide initiatives and also distribute the funds through subgrants or cooperative agreements to public, school, academic, research, and special libraries. There is a requirement for a state match, which helps stimulate approximately three to four dollars for every federal dollar invested.
Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) allocates a base amount of $680,000 to each State Library, plus a supplemental amount using a population-based formula set by law. Each state's allotment data can be accessed HERE.