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Senate Dear Appropriator campaign by the numbers

How our Senator Dear Appropriator campaign performance looks state-by-state. Navy blue represents “Yes” on both letters. Orange represents “Yes” on IAL but “No” on LSTA. Light blue represents “No” on IAL and “Yes” on LSTA. Gray represents “No” on both. (You can click to enlarge this map!)

Yesterday, the Senate “Dear Appropriator” campaign came to a close, ending over two months of intense advocacy work by library supporters all over the country. Both letters, one supporting the Library and Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the other supporting the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program, have been delivered to the Senate Appropriations Committee by Senator Reed’s staff with 45 and 37 signatures respectively. You can check our online table for the full list.

We are happy to report that not only were both letters bipartisan but also that the IAL total equals the previous high-water mark for the program set in 2013 and the LSTA total sets a new record! We couldn’t have made it happen without your hard work. Because of your efforts, over 21,000 emails were sent to the Senate alone, and over 42,000 emails to Congress and almost 26,000 #saveIMLS tweets were sent about IMLS and federal library funding since mid-March – an astonishing number.

Here are a few other details about the Senate campaign:

  • This year’s LSTA total of 45 tops last year’s support level by 33% and IAL’s by just under 20%
  • Every Democrat on the critical “Labor H” appropriations subcommittee signed both letters (Ranking Member Patty Murry of WA, given her position, was not expected to sign)
  • 10 returning senators signed the LSTA letter who had not signed last year: Feinstein, Bennet, Carper, Nelson, Donnelly, Heitkamp, Udall, Casey, Kaine and Warner
  • All 5 freshman Democrats signed the LSTA letter (Harris, Duckworth, Van Hollen, Hassan and Cortez Masto), and all but Duckworth also signed the IAL letter
  • Every Democrat not in an “abstaining” leadership position signed the LSTA letter other than Claire McCaskill of MO (she is supportive, but generally does not sign such letters)
  • 6 returning senators signed the IAL letter who had not signed last year: Coons, Collins, Merkley, Warner, Cantwell, and Manchin
  • We did lose 2 signers from last year (Burr on LSTA and Wicker on IAL), but both stated that they continue to be supportive.
  • The campaign had the support of over 90 companies from the newly formed Corporate Committee for Library Investment (CCLI), which delivered a letter to the Senate, urging them to sign the LSTA and IAL letters.

All this has placed LSTA and IAL in the strongest possible position for this stage of the appropriations cycle, which will continue into the fall. You can expect further updates from us as we move forward, particularly around the reauthorization process for the Museum and Library Services Act, but for now, take a second to rest (and celebrate)!

Have a little extra advocacy bandwidth left? Use our database to see if your senators signed one or both letters and then let them know you appreciate their support!

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Kevin Maher

Kevin Maher is the deputy director of government relations at the American Library Association’s Washington Office. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Before coming to the ALA in 2014, Kevin was the vice president of government affairs for the American Hotel and Lodging Association for 20 years.


  1. Sue Sherif Sue Sherif

    Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) sent me a letter on 5/31 claiming that he signed the Dear Appropriator letter, but I do not see his name on the list.

    I may be confused because the wording is a bit strange:
    “This budget request from the White House is a first step and a general blueprint for where our country should be headed: increased funding for our national defense and homeland security, and cuts to agencies that have stifled economic growth over the last eight years. However, some of the specific cuts in this initial budget disproportionately target rural economies across our country, including in Alaska, and some don’t align with the commitments made by members of the Trump administration during their confirmation process and hearings. This is why I signed the letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging them to support robust funding for the IMLS Office of Museum Services for FY18.”

    Did he end up supporting LSTA funding? Can someone in the Washington Office clarify?

  2. Thanks for asking, Sue! There has been a little confusion about another IMLS letter addressing museum funding but NOT LSTA. Some Members of Congress appear to have thought both letters were related to same issue, though we tried repeatedly to make sure they understood the difference. It appears that this is the case here where the Senator thought he had all of IMLS covered. We are reaching out to offices that signed the Museums letter but not the LSTA letter and urge them to sign the LSTA letter next year. We made excellent progress this year and hope to build on that next year with more signatures.

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