ALA urges House and Senate approps subcommittees to support LSTA, IAL

IAL Grant Applications Due by May 9

The American Library Association filed comments last week with House and Senate Appropriations Committees in support of funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL).

As the Appropriations Committees begin their consideration of 12 appropriations bills, ALA is urging the Committees to fund LSTA at $186.6 million and IAL at $27 million for FY 2017. Both programs received increases in last year’s FY 2016 funding bills and were included in the President’s February budget request to Congress.Photobywww.GlynLowe.com_viaflickr

“Without LSTA funding, these and many other specialized programs targeted to the needs of their communities across the country likely will be entirely eliminated, not merely scaled back. In most instances, LSTA funding (and its required but smaller state match) allows libraries to create new programs for their patrons,” noted Emily Sheketoff in comments to both Committees.

The $186.6 million funding level for LSTA mirrors last year’s request to Congress from the President and is also supported by “Dear Appropriator” letters recently circulated in the Senate and House for Members’ signatures. LSTA was funded at $155.8 million for FY 2016 and ALA expressed concern that the President is requesting only $154.8 million for FY 2017.

In supporting $27 million in IAL funding for school libraries, ALA commented that “studies show that strong literacy skills and year-round access to books is a critical first-step towards literacy and life-long learning. For American families living in poverty, access to reading materials is severely limited. These children have fewer books in their homes than their peers, which hinders their ability to prepare for school and to stay on track.”

Congress provided $27 million in FY 2016 IAL funding and the President requested the same level for FY 2017. IAL, which dedicates half of its resources for school libraries, was authorized in last year’s Every Student Succeeds Act. “Dear Appropriator” letters circulated in the Senate and House on its behalf called for $27 million in FY 2017 funding.

ALA reminds its members that the Department of Education recently announced that it has opened its FY 2016 window for new IAL grant applications. The DOE’s announcement with full application filing details is available online. Grant applications must be submitted by May 9, 2016.

In additional support for library funding, LSTA and IAL were highlighted in the annual Committee for Education Funding (CEF) Budget Response to Congress: Education Matters: Investing in America’s Future. The CEF budget response, which reserves two chapters for the LSTA and IAL programs, provides an explanation of the programs, examples of how funds have been used, and a justification for the funding levels sought.

Note: You can view the testimonies submitted by Emily Sheketoff to the House and Senate.

About Kevin Maher

Kevin Maher is the assistant director of the American Library Association's Office of Government Relations.

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