Federal funding for library priorities in fiscal year (FY) 2019 took another step in the right direction with Wednesday evening’s House Appropriations Committee approval of level funding for critical library programs Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL). Under the bill, which originated from the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, LSTA would receive $186.3 million for FY 2019 while IAL would receive $27 million.
Also included in the House bill is increased funding for Career and Technical Education State Grants (available to public library programs) and Title IV Part A (funding for well-rounded, healthy students, and technology available to school libraries).
The action comes weeks after the June 28 Senate Appropriations Committee vote to also provide level funding for LSTA and IAL. The Senate provided an additional $2 million increase for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the parent federal agency that implements LSTA programs. The IMLS increase in the Senate bill is targeted for administration and research but will not increase library grant programs.
Thanks to ALA members’ year-round-advocacy, House and Senate appropriators have rejected the administration’s call to eliminate LSTA and IAL funding for two years in a row. ALA members supported the annual “Dear Appropriator” letter campaign in the Spring, visited with Members of Congress during National Library Legislative Day, called and wrote to support library funding priorities. This message has been heard across Capitol Hill.
The next step in the FY 2019 appropriations process is consideration of the funding measure in the full House and Senate, respectively. At this point, neither chamber has scheduled floor time for a vote on appropriations. In the event that Congress fails to pass all 12 funding bills by the October 1 start of the FY 2019 year, a continuing resolution (CR) will be needed to keep the government functioning. We are hearing in D.C. that many congressional staff are anticipating the need for a CR. ALA’s Washington Office will continue to provide you the latest updates and let you know when there is a specific message for your advocacy.
If your Representative or Senator sits on the Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee, please take a moment to thank them for supporting library funding, especially through social media (don’t forget to tag them!). We encourage ALA members in districts not represented on the Subcommittee to contact your officials in support of library funding. 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 soon for its August recess, providing excellent opportunities to invite your officials and their staffs 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.