American Library Association (ALA) members have been working tirelessly to defend federal library funding since March, when the president announced his intention to eliminate Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). At this point in the decision-making process, it looks like our efforts are paying off.
I am pleased to report that on September 14, the full House of Representatives voted as part of a large spending package (H.R. 3354) not to make any cuts in federal funding for IMLS. This includes all funding for IMLS programs under the Library Services and Technology Act, and for the Department of Education’s Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program.
Congratulations to everyone who has taken action to help #saveIMLS. Many of us called and emailed our members of Congress. Many of us retweeted action alerts issued by the ALA Washington Office at key stages in the campaign. Some of us wrote op-eds for local newspapers. Some coordinated with state librarians to identify the impact of IMLS funding on local libraries and even hosted congressional staffers at our libraries during the summer.
Together we—ALA members and library advocates everywhere—are not only defending our nation’s libraries but are also showing that libraries are indispensable in our communities. We are most successful when we send clear, consistent messages at just the right times in the federal decision-making process. Thanks to the leadership and expertise of our staff in ALA’s Washington Office, we know exactly when our advocacy can be most effective.
It’s not yet time to declare victory in the fight to #saveIMLS. With last week’s vote, the House of Representatives has now finished its work on the FY2018 appropriations bills. While the full Senate is not likely to take up its own spending bill until late this year, we are encouraged by the funding increases recommended by the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this month.
ALA members may need to push hard to retain funding gains made in the Senate once the process of resolving differences with the House bill begins. ALA’s Washington Office will put out an alert when your voice can be most effective. I encourage you to subscribe to District Dispatch, the ALA Washington Office blog, to follow the latest developments on congressional appropriations and critical federal policy issues.
Thank you for doing your part to #saveIMLS. Your advocacy has put libraries in a great position at this point in the process; your persistence later this year should give us a strong finish.