Dear Library Supporters,
The coming weeks in Congress will be very busy for many of our key issues. One of the most important issues will be President Bush’s proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2009, to be released publicly this Monday, February 4. Appropriations that ALA will particularly scrutinize and report on include funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Improving Literacy through School Libraries program in No Child Left Behind (NCLB.)
ALA will also be watching for proposed funding for the Library of Congress, the Government Printing Office, and federal libraries, as well as many other programs. This is expected to be an even more difficult appropriations year and major grassroots advocacy from library supporters will be necessary. Start getting your stories together about how federal funding supports library services in your state, community, or institution — and standby for reports in the next few days.
It’s been reported just today that behind the scenes negotiations in the Senate have come to closure and the Senate will return to floor debate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) reform bills. Earlier this week, the Senate could not come to agreement on dueling FISA reform bills from the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. ALA previously called for action on these FISA issues. Watch for our updates as we hear more about the proposals coming out of these latest negotiations. Please be ready for possible “urgent action alerts” when we hear more about results from the negotiations.
The Senate is expected to again take up NCLB reauthorization in March. Contact your Senators now and ask them to help school library media centers by agreeing to co-sponsor the SKILLS ACT.
There are many steps you can take this week, including using our online Legislative Action Center to contact your Congressional Representatives and Senators. This is going to be a very tough year for appropriations and other issues. Your direct involvement even on just one issue can help advance the library cause for federal legislation. Consider:
- Signing on to the Federal Library Legislative and Advocacy Network (FLLAN);
- Registering now for 2008 National Library Legislative Day, on May 13 & 14 here in Washington, DC;
- Attending a town meeting or candidates’ forum and asking about them about library appropriations, privacy/FISA, E-rate, or other library issues important to your library;
- Starting discussion within your library about creating an opportunity to invite your Congressional Representative and Senators as well as other candidates, since it’s an election year, to visit your library.
Got any questions about our issues — or about advocating at the federal level? Feel free to call us at the ALA Office of Government Relations (OGR). Call toll-free: 1-800-941-8478. And, we’ll look for your comments on this blog, too!
Director, ALA Office of Government Relations (OGR)