Federal Dollars on the Line for State Library Programs

Ask Your Members of Congress to Help Bring the Bucks Home while They’re at Home

It’s “appropriations” season again in Washington. That time every year when the President submits a budget to Congress and, in theory at least, Congress drafts and votes on bills to federally fund everything from llama farming to, well, libraries. Nevermind where llamas get their cash, but libraries in every state in the nation benefit from funds allocated by Congress for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), the only federally funded program specifically dedicated to supporting libraries. Last year, libraries received just under $183 million in LSTA funding, about $156 million of which flowed to states as matching grants.

Stuffed llama stands on a pile of money.

Source: https://twitter.com/ecuadorianllama

Neither llama farmers nor libraries, however, benefit from federal funding without considerable convincing. That’s where you and your Members of Congress come in.

Starting in mid-February, individual Members of Congress will start signing letters addressed to their influential colleagues who sit on the powerful Appropriations Committees in both chambers of Congress. Those letters will ask the Committee to provide specific dollar amounts for specific programs, LSTA included. The math is easy: the more Members of Congress who sign the “Dear Appropriator” letter asking for significant LSTA funding, the better the odds of that money actually being awarded by the Appropriations Committee and eventually flowing to your state. Similarly, the more librarians and library supporters who ask their Members of Congress to sign that LSTA Dear Appropriator letter, the better the odds that LSTA will be funded and funded well.

So, how can you help? That’s easy, too.

We are asking library supporters to reach out and request a meeting with their Representatives and Senators while Members of Congress are home for the Presidents’ Day recess from February 15 – 20. The message to deliver at these meetings couldn’t be more simple or straightforward: “Please add your name to the LSTA Dear Appropriator letter.”

Members of Congress may be considering signing letters in support of other programs, but they will most likely sign the LSTA letter if they hear from constituents back home … or better yet, if they can visit your library and see the positive impact LSTA-funded programs are having on their constituents.

Please take a moment this week to reach out to your Member of Congress’ and Senators’ offices and request a meeting with the Member or his or her “District Director” anytime during the week of February 15 to discuss LSTA and the Dear Appropriator letters. Once you’ve met, please let the Washington Office know how it went and we will follow up on your great work.

Your Representative and Senators work for you and will love hearing about all of the great things that LSTA money does for their constituents. They’ll be happy to hear from you! Please, set that Presidents’ Week meeting today.

About Kevin Maher

Kevin Maher is the deputy director of Government Relations. His portfolio includes federal appropriations and telecommunications issues. Previously, Kevin worked in congressional affairs for the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the U.S. Travel Association.

3 comments

  1. Where can we find the Dear Appropriator letter referenced in the article?

  2. Frank W. Hawthorne

    I did contact my representative, Dan Benishek, of Michigan’s 1st District, but only got a form letter back (claiming, in general, his support for our state & district libraries), which didn’t really address the ALA-proposed question asked of him. Not surprised really. “Dr. Dan” seemed distracted & out-of-touch, even before he announced his lame-duck status. Thanks–FWH

  3. Hello, Tina. The letter has not been released yet. It is likely that it will not be out till next week, but we will keep everyone posted.

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