The Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday approved level funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) programs, rejecting the administration’s call to eliminate funding for these important library programs. The Committee approved a $2 million increase for the Institute of Museum of Library Services (IMLS), which administers LSTA, to cover administrative costs.
Yesterday’s action comes two days after the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the bill. The full Senate will take up consideration of the spending bill after the July 4 recess, although timing has not been announced.
ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo greeted the news as a positive signal, saying, “Defending federal funding for libraries is no small matter. There is more competition than ever for a piece of the shrinking budget pie. But ALA members are more committed than ever to advocating for our libraries. As Congress heads home for the July 4 recess, ALA members should take the opportunity to invite their elected leaders to visit their local library and show them how federal funding for libraries makes their congressional districts stronger.”
Last week, the House LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee approved level funding for LSTA and IAL, indicating wide support for library funding in both chambers of Congress. The House Subcommittee provided additional resources for Career & Technical Education State Grants and Title IV Part A (school funding for well-rounded, healthy students, and technology). The House Appropriations Committee deferred action on the Subcommittee bill until after the July 4 recess. House leaders expressed a concern that policy riders in the bill (unrelated to library funding) could make passage of the bill problematic.
The funding levels in both bills should encourage us – and remind us that the most impactful advocacy comes from year-round engagement with the elected leaders who make decisions, not only about federal funding, but also about policy issues that affect library professionals and the people we serve.
If you have emailed your member of Congress, make a phone call. If you have called, write a letter to the editor. Most of all, invite your representative or senator to visit your library, just like Great River (Okla.) Regional Library did last month, to show them the difference your library makes in the lives of your users, their constituents. Congress heads home today for the week-long July 4 recess, and will return home again for the traditional August recess (shortened in the Senate), providing excellent opportunities to invite your officials to visit.
Need help setting up a visit? Contact the Washington Office for assistance. If you have recently hosted a member of Congress at your library, share your experience with us.