URGENT ACTION NEEDED: Protect Library Funding in the Economic Stimulus Package

Cross-posted on the Legislative Action Center.

The next 36 to 48 hours is critical to get millions, maybe billions, of dollars for libraries in the stimulus package.  We need every single library supporter to start sending messages and calling congressional offices so that we can keep important library provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  As you all know, libraries are a key source of free Internet access to look for jobs and so much more.  Our libraries provide essential services that stimulate our local economies, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides crucial funding for libraries to continue and build upon them.  This week, the Senate and House versions of the economic stimulus package will go to conference to reconcile these pieces of legislation, and your calls and e-mails will help protect this funding.  There are pros and cons of each version of the stimulus, and we need to protect the parts that benefit our communities.

In the coming days, you will receive a lot of e-mails from us, and your advocacy will be the key to our success.   Last week, Senate Amendment 501 could have stripped broadband funding from their version of the bill but your calls and e-mails to your elected officials defeated this amendment and successfully protected this funding.  Now, more than ever, your activism is needed.  Over 1,250 calls went to our elected officials, and now we need even more.

Please call your elected officials and tell them to communicate with the conferees in support of the following parts in both the House and the Senate versions:

  • Restore education construction funds eliminated from the Senate version of the ARRA. The House version of the ARRA would provide $14 billion for K-12 construction and $6 billion for higher education construction and specifically mention libraries as an allowable use of funds.  The K-12 construction funds would create 300,000 jobs.
  • Restore the money cut from the State Stabilization Fund in the Senate bill to $79 billion to and restore the Governors ability to use a portion of the funds at his or her discretion.
  • Maintain $8 billion for ‘Broadband Technology Opportunities Program’ for robust broadband to all of America including “fiber to the libraries for the 21st century.”
  • No less than $200 million that shall be available for competitive grants for expanding public computer center capacity, including community colleges and public libraries.
  • Open access of networks should be upheld and not include provisions allowing intrusive network management techniques.

If your elected officials are one of the following, it is even more critical that you contact them, as they are conferees on this legislation and control what stays in and what will be taken out.  Please contact the following and use the same talking points:

Appropriations Chairman Obey (D-WI)
Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY)
Commerce Chairman Waxman (D-CA)
Appropriations Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
Ways and Means Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI)
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT)
Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Finance Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Appropriations Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS)

Again, the only way our grassroots effort will be successful is with your calls and e-mails.  Your efforts have resulted in a stay of implementation on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and a defeat of the amendment that would have cut broadband funding from the Senate version of the economic stimulus act.  This is our most important ask yet; without your calls, libraries will be left out of this legislation.

Kristin Murphy, Government Relations Specialist
Office of Government Relations
kmurphy@alawash.org

About Jacob Roberts

Jacob Roberts is the communications specialist for the ALA Washington Office.