April 3rd was the deadline for Representatives in the House to sign on to ALA’s “dear appropriator” letters for two funding streams for libraries: the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL). In all, 146 Members of the House signed on to support IAL, and 144 Members signed on to back LSTA. Last year, just 124 members supported IAL, and only 88 supported LSTA, so the increased support is a good sign. Thank you to everyone who contacted their House Reps! If you haven’t done so already, please shoot them an email or a Tweet to thank them. Check this chart to see if your Rep signed one or both letters.
Here is an overview of what comes next in this months’ long federal budget process:
- The same “dear appropriator” letters will be circulated in the Senate later this month, so we will need all advocates to re-focus their efforts on the Senate and repeat the great advocacy work you did with their House Reps.
- Congress is not in session April 8 – 23. We encourage you to visit their local office while they’re home in their district, or invite them to your library. According to the Congressional Management Foundation, in-person meetings are by far the #1 most effective advocacy activity you can do. Tips and resources to help you connect locally with your elected officials are on YALSA’s wiki. Please note: I called last week to set up a visit with my Rep, but her schedule was already booked full. The soonest date I could meet with her was May 11th (so I took it!).
- April 13 is Take Action for Libraries Day as part of National Library Week — we suggest that the action you take is to make your plans for how you, your library, and library supporters will participate in National Library Legislative Day.
- May 2nd is National Library Legislative Day. YALSA’s wiki has tips and resources to help you participate from home and to organize others to participate as well.
- Over the spring and summer, Congress will work in their various committees on their respective parts of the budget. Congress is not in session on these dates, so take advantage of these additional opportunities to meet with Congress members locally and/or invite them to your library. Remember: they are public servants who work for YOU, so don’t be shy about contacting them!
- May 27 – June 4
- July 1 – July 9
- July 29 – Sept. 4
- After Labor Day, the budget typically comes out of the committees, and the full Congress reviews the draft budget and works up to Oct. 1st to come up with a final budget. During September, expect ALA to issue calls to action as we learn more about what is likely to be fully funded, what may be partially funded, and what will likely get de-funded.
For other ways that you can take action to support federal funds for libraries, read this earlier blog post. To learn more about the federal budget process, read this great primer from AAAS. Thank you for all that you do to support teens and libraries!