The fight for Congressional funding for FY2017 has begun in Washington, D.C., and Congress is again looking for programs to eliminate. Last year, House Budget Committee Chairman (now Speaker of the House) Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) called for cuts that could have “zeroed out” the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) completely. This year, President Obama’s budget proposes slicing nearly $1 million from LSTA’s key Grants to States Program.
While the American Library Association (ALA) is working in Washington to protect critical library funding, members of Congress respond best when they hear from their constituents.
Take a few minutes to call, email, or even tweet your representative and both of your senators to request that they add their names to two letters supporting LSTA and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) funding now being circulated by some of their colleagues who are library champions in Congress. Lots of signatures on these letters would indicate to appropriators that LSTA and IAL have deep and wide support across the country, which is another way of telling them to look elsewhere for programs to cut.
We have only a few days before these “Dear appropriator” letters are due to be delivered to the appropriations committees, so there’s no time to hesitate.
Without LSTA, a public library in Illinois wouldn’t have been able to replace books lost in a flood. A public library in rural North Carolina wouldn’t have been able to assist local businesses in developing first-class websites. A public library in California wouldn’t have been able to help returning veterans develop new skills and apply for jobs. All of these projects were supported by LSTA funding.
IAL brought real benefits to real kids, too. A school library in Arkansas developed a targeted reading and book distribution program for young students to encourage them to read with their parents. A school library in Texas purchased e-readers and implemented an English-language reading skills program.
Take five minutes now to review this ALA alert with directions and talking points for contacting the offices of your representative and senators to make clear your support for LSTA and IAL and, specifically, to ask them to sign the LSTA and IAL “Dear appropriator” letters now. Senate letters must be completed by March 14, and House letters must be completed by March 18.