Library Services and Construction Act

The Library Services and Construction Act, enacted in 1964 by the U.S. Congress, provides federal assistance to libraries in the United States for the purpose of improving or implementing library services or undertaking construction projects.

Library Services and Construction Act
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleAn Act to amend the Library Services Act in order to increase the amount of assistance under such Act and to extend such assistance to nonrural areas.
Acronyms (colloquial)LSCA
NicknamesLibrary Services Act Amendment of 1964
Enacted bythe 88th United States Congress
EffectiveFebruary 11, 1964
Public law88-269
Statutes at Large78 Stat. 11
Titles amended20 U.S.C.: Education
U.S.C. sections amended20 U.S.C. ch. 16 § 351 et seq.
Legislative history

The 88th U.S. Congressional session passed the S. 2265 bill which the 36th President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson enacted into law on February 11, 1964.[1]


Since public libraries depended on local taxes, sometimes there would be a struggle for funding, especially in rural areas. After the Great Depression in 1929 and the creation of the Works Progress Administration in 1935, part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, the American Library Association (ALA) realized federal funding was the best solution. In 1956, the ALA was finally able to persuade Congress to pass the Library Services Act, which provided funds for public library initiatives but did not extend to buildings or land.[2]


Influenced by the civil rights movement of the 1960s, a primary aim of the Library Services and Construction Act was to provide funding for underserved and/or disadvantaged communities in need of library service. Some of these groups include but are not limited to the institutionalized, the physically handicapped, low-income families, senior citizens, and ethnic minorities.[3]


In its thirty-year history, the Library Services and Construction Act has undergone numerous reauthorizations. Each amendment has been dictated by changing needs in the library community, and these needs have been identified and voiced by state librarians and public library directors alike. Some of these amendments include appropriations for literacy programs and the acquisition of foreign-language materials.[3] While changes to the Library Services and Construction Act have sought to keep this piece of legislation current, through the years many have voiced opposition to certain aspects of this act.


Federally funded, many programs for the purpose of educational and social development have more traditionally been a fiscal responsibility of each individual state. Though with shrinking state budgets, a shift to a state-funded program for library services and construction seemed somewhat unfeasible. Additionally, a re-examination of which library services should be preserved and which should be abandoned has been suggested.[4] Perhaps as a result of this opposition, in 1995 the LSCA was replaced by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), dropping construction from the federal funding available.

Funded programsEdit

Its change of title in 1995 notwithstanding, numerous library programs and services have been initiated by funds through the Library Services and Construction Act, and continue to depend on those funds for their existence. An example of one program funded through the LSCA is Project PLUS (Promoting Larger Units of Service). This program uses federal funding so that library systems can demonstrate the services of a library to a group of unserved residents, so that they may experience what services and resources would be available to them if a referendum was passed in their community and a library was established.[5] While programs such as Project PLUS have provided success stories from the funds provided by the LSCA, discussion will undoubtedly continue as to the legitimacy and necessity of federal funds for libraries throughout the country.


  1. ^ Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. "Lyndon B. Johnson: "Remarks Upon Signing Bill Amending the Library Services Act.," February 11, 1964". The American Presidency Project. University of California - Santa Barbara.
  2. ^ Hirsch, Sandra (2015). Information Services Today: An Introduction (New ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 14. ISBN 9781442239586.
  3. ^ a b Bruce E. Daniels. "In Defense of LSCA. (Library Services and Construction Act)". American Libraries v20.n8 (Sept 1989): pp741(3).
  4. ^ Edward G. Holley. "Is it time to rethink federal library legislation? (Library Services and Construction Act)". American Libraries v20.n6 (June 1989): pp525(3).
  5. ^ Sarah Rohrer. "LSCA: A History of Innovation and Cooperation in Illinois Library Services". Illinois Libraries v80.n3 (Summer 1998): pp.177-179.