The campaign to save over $210 million in library funding begins this week in the House of Representatives with the release of two Dear Appropriator letters.*
Our activity starts on the heels of the White House budget proposal for FY 2019, which recommends the elimination of most federal library funding. Though the budget proposal is concerning, it is Congress that has the final say over the FY 2019 budget.
Starting today, two Dear Appropriator letters are circulating in support of federal library funding for FY 2019 for both LSTA and IAL. Library advocates need to contact their representatives this week and ask them to sign both letters by the March 19 deadline.
The more signatures we get on these Dear Appropriator letters, the better proof we have of the wide, bipartisan backing for federal library funding. For many members of Congress (especially those not on the Appropriations Committee), signing these letters is the best opportunity for them to show their unequivocal support for our nation’s libraries.
The FY 2019 LSTA Dear Appropriator letter, led by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and calls on Congress to provide at least $187 million for LSTA. Thanks to ALA members, one-third of the entire House of Representatives (144 members) signed the FY 2018 LSTA letter last year. Our goal is to increase the number of signatories for the FY 2019 letter.
The FY 2019 IAL Dear Appropriator Letter is again led by four representatives: Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), and Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ). Last year, ALA members succeeded in securing 146 signatures on the IAL letter. Again, our goal is to increase the number of signatories.
When you call your member’s office, the script can be as simple as:
“Hello, I am a constituent of Representative [name] from [your town]. I am calling today to urge the representative to sign two Dear Appropriator letters supporting over $210 million in library funding – one letter for the Library Services and Technology Act and one for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program.”
Even if member of Congress tells you that they have a policy of not signing onto letters, respond by asking them to support an increase in federal library funding.
Want to send an email? Visit the Action Center to take advantage of our email template.
This year, the ALA Washington Office has provided new tools to enhance your advocacy. On the Fund Libraries page, you will find a table where you can track whether your representative has signed the FY 2019 letters and see your representative’s history of support for previous years’ Dear Appropriator letters. You will also find links to resources for writing letters to the editors of news outlets to publicly urge your member of Congress to sign the FY 2019 Dear Appropriator letters.
The fight for library funding is on. The first step to guaranteeing support for federal library funding is for you to invite your member of Congress to sign the Dear Appropriator letters on LSTA and IAL. Make your call today, and then check Fund Libraries to see when your representative signs the letters. And stay tuned – similar letters will be circulating in the Senate in a few weeks and this process will start again.
*Both the House and the Senate have appropriations committees that draft budget bills based on recommendations put forward by their subcommittees (for example, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the Institute of Museum and Library Services). Members of Congress typically submit letters to the appropriations committees to request funding for the programs they champion, and the letters are co-signed by other members of Congress.
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