Today Congress passed and the president signed an FY2018 budget deal that will likely include at least level funding for federal library programs at FY2017 levels. Below is the statement of ALA President Jim Neal:
We are pleased that Congress has passed an FY2018 spending agreement that includes an increase in federal funding for domestic priorities, which, we hope, will include library funding. Most of all, we are pleased that Congress rejected the president’s call to eliminate many important programs for libraries, programs that benefit millions of Americans in every corner of our country – students, seniors, children, job seekers, veterans, entrepreneurs and researchers. While this budget agreement is a positive step towards resolving the FY2018 budget, ALA continues to call on Congress to include funding for libraries as it writes the final spending bills in the coming weeks.
One lesson from this long FY2018 appropriations process is that when libraries speak, decision-makers listen. At critical points in the process last year, ALA members from every U.S. congressional district responded to our calls to action. As a result, a record number of representatives and senators signed our annual “Dear Appropriator” letters in the spring. As the House and Senate Appropriations Committees worked on their respective bills last summer, ALA members made more targeted phone calls and visits and leveraged their local media to tell their library stories. Our advocacy earned bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, preserving full funding in the House and even garnering an increase in the Senate.
The persistence of library advocates has paid off for every single community in our nation, from the most populous metropolitan centers to rural areas where the local library offers the only no-fee access to the internet. This is a time to honor the power of our advocacy.
This is also a time to strengthen our resolve. The White House will soon release its FY2019 budget, and we’re expecting even deeper cuts than proposed last year. To protect federal library funding, we need to remind Congress that libraries bring leaders and experts together to solve difficult problems, that we deliver opportunities – from academic success, work-readiness and literacy to housing stability and historical preservation. We need to invite elected leaders into our libraries to see what we do and what we can do for their constituents with a small investment of federal dollars.
The FY2018 budget passage represents a major win for libraries, and that win will fuel even more aggressive efforts to advocate for federal library funding in FY2019. ALA’s Washington Office will continue to provide the expertise, strategy and resources that have helped make our advocacy so effective. For a preview of our new federal advocacy tools, visit: ala.org/fundlibraries