Bill passed continues federal funding for libraries, much needed programs

Libraries provide books, e-books, movies, computers, and more

SAN ANTONIO – Times are constantly changing with technology and thanks to a recently passed bill, libraries across the nation can continue to keep up.

A bill co-authored by Congressman Will Hurd passed on New Year's Eve. It continues federal funding for libraries nationwide, showing they are a priority and they provide far more than the ability to check out a book.

About 5.6 million people pass through the San Antonio Public Library system each year.

"A library is really essential. It's one of the few government services that's available for absolutely anyone," said San Antonio Public Library Assistant Director Dale McNeill.

Though with a crowded political landscape, there's always concern about funding.

The library's many programs are predominantly funded by the city and county, but they also rely on federal funding.

That's why McNeill was thrilled that a bill passed on New Year's Eve continuing federal funds for the modernization of libraries nationwide.

Innovation is something San Antonio has always taken advantage of.

The library features a new teen center with a music room, a 3D printer, and art programs.

Then on the main floor, there are rows of computers that McNeill says are always being used.

"Whether you don't have a computer at home or your internet is just down today, you can come to the library apply for a job, write a resume," McNeill said.

Four local libraries have teachers helping with skills from typing to getting a GED.

A big chunk of the funding is for connecting resources statewide.

"People can get books from one library sent to another one. So in San Antonio, we borrow and lend books around the state. As you can well imagine, in a small town or small city, the ability to borrow books from San Antonio is amazing but obviously, that takes transportation, and staffing," McNeill said.

Plus, it's 2019 so a lot of the funding will go towards the digital library. People can just go to the library's website and check out e-books without even stepping foot in the library.

Still, people show up every day.

McNeill said that's because the library is an asset, a haven for learning and a core piece of our community. 

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