Does Congress Talk More About Libraries or Museums?

Nick Krabbenhoeft

The federal government provides over $200 million to museums and libraries through the Institute for Museums and Library Services (IMLS). I’ve heard grumblings that the IMLS is biased towards libraries, and I wondered if IMLS’s funders (Congress) are biased towards libraries as well.

Mentions of Libraries and Museums in the Congressional Record

The answer is yes. Using the Capitol Words API from Sunlight Labs to count mentions of “libraries” and “museums” in the Congressional Record. It’s clear that libraries have been debated nearly twice as often as museums for the past 15 years, until 2011. Since 2011, mention of both museums and libraries have fallen, libraries even faster than museums. In 2014, museums were finally mentioned more often than libraries, but it’s a pyrrhic victory.

Still to explain, why the spike in 2003 and 2009?

Update (2015/03/06)
Trevor Owens helpfully pointed out that the 2003 and 2009 spikes line up with reappropration debates.

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