Congress’ process for funding programs is in full swing and millions in federal funding for libraries hang in the balance. There’s never enough money to go around, and Members are always looking for programs to “zero out” so they can reallocate those budgets to their pet projects. Right now, the real keys to saving library funding from the chopping block – particularly the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) programs — are the members of the powerful House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Your Representative in the House and two Senators have influence with those Committee members, so it’s important that your Members let the Appropriations Committee know of their support for continued library funding.
The best way for them to do that is to sign what we call “Dear Appropriator” letters that three Members of Congress who are huge library champions have drafted to the members of the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate. The more Members of Congress that we can get to sign these “Dear Appropriator” letters, the better the chance of preserving and securing real money for libraries.
But there’s a catch – Members of Congress generally only add their names to “Dear Appropriator” letters if they hear from their own constituents. Right now, it’s your Senators and Representative in the House who needs to sign LSTA and IAL “Dear Appropriator” letters.
With the March 20 deadline for signatures fast approaching, it’s urgent that you email or phone your own Senators and Representative today by calling (202) 225-3121, asking the Operator to connect you to your Senators and Representative’s office (you can find out who that is easily here) and ask the person who answers to ask their boss to add their name to “Dear Appropriator” letters supporting LSTA and IAL currently being circulated by our champions in Congress. To see whether your Members of Congress signed the letters last year, view the FY 2015 Funding Letter Signees document (pdf). If so, please be sure to thank and remind them of that when you email or call!
Background material for you and contact information for your Senators and Representative to use to add their name to these crucial letters follow. Again, signatures on the letters are due by March 20 so, please, call your Congressperson’s office now and ask him or her to sign both the LSTA and IAL “Dear Appropriator” letters being circulated by our champions (see chart below).
Please join us. There’s not a moment, but millions and millions of dollars, to lose!
Note: these letters are due before the end of the month so you will need to call this week.
|“DEAR APPROPRIATOR” LETTERS …|
|BACKGROUND INFORMATION||LSTA is the only source of funding for libraries in the federal budget. The bulk of this funding is returned to states through a population-based grant program through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Libraries use LSTA funds to, among other things, build and maintain 21st century collections that facilitate employment and entrepreneurship, community engagement, and individual empowerment. For more information on LSTA, check out this document LSTA Background and Ask (pdf).||IAL is the only federal program supporting literacy for underserved school libraries and has become the primary source for federal funding for school library materials. Focusing on low income schools, these funds help many schools bring their school libraries up to standard. For more information on IAL, view School Libraries Brief (pdf).|
|Congressional staff your Member should contact to sign…|
|HOUSE STAFF/ CHAMPION||Norma Salazar (Representative Raul Grijalva)||Don Andres (Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson)|
|SENATE STAFF/ CHAMPION||Elyse Wasch (Senator Jack Reed)||Elyse Wasch (Senator Jack Reed)
James Rice (Senator Charles Grassley)