My purpose of writing this blog post is to demonstrate that meeting with your member of Congress is easy and even a little fun! Why do this? Because this year is unlike any other in recent history: the White House is proposing to eliminate IMLS and with it all federal funds for libraries. We must convince our members of Congress now that this will have devastating effects, or libraries will lose the support and funding they need to help their communities. This is a do or die type of situation, and it calls for extraordinary measures. The Congressional Management Foundation says that in-person meetings with elected officials are the single most effective way to educate them about your cause and persuade them to support it. If all YALSA members met with their members of Congress, that would send a compelling message that they could not ignore!
On May 2nd, I traveled to Washington DC with YALSA President Sarah Hill and other YALSA members to participate in National Library Legislative Day. We focused our conversations on
- Preserving federal funds and support for libraries in the FY18 budget, including the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA), Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
- Keeping the Internet free and open to all by preserving existing net neutrality rules. Learn more about this issue from an earlier YALSAblog post.
Sarah and I met with Congressional staff who work for committees that are relevant to libraries, such as the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. We participated in seven meetings in seven hours and here’s what we learned from this speed-dating with Congressional staff:
- Your emails, calls, Tweets and letters are working—especially your calls and letters—but we need more. Everyone we met admitted that Congress is pretty old school. So, calls and letters get more attention than social media or email. This includes letters to the editor and op-ed pieces in local newspapers. Please keep sending letters and making calls! As of May 4, only 20 Senators have signed the letter supporting federal funds for libraries in FY18. Check out this earlier YALSAblog post for sample messages and a ready to use letter to the editor (docx).
In 2015 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), after an outpouring of support from the public, put in place strict regulations to make sure internet service providers (ISPs) could not do things like create fast lanes, or “throttle” online traffic. They preserved an open internet where all traffic is treated equally online and where large corporations did not get preferential treatment over individuals or small institutions, like libraries or schools. The American Library Association (ALA) has long been a supporter of net neutrality–keeping the Internet open and free to everyone–and has issued several statements on the topic. Net neutrality aligns closely with libraries’ core value of providing free and open access to information for everyone. You can learn more and keep up to date on developments from their District Dispatch blog. This week, the Trump administration proposed rolling back those regulations with an ironically named “Restoring Internet Freedom” proposal, and they are now accepting public comments about the proposal. Continue reading
Last month library supporters were called on to contact their Rep in the House. Now it’s the Senate’s turn! Please email, Tweet and/or call the offices of your two U.S. Senators and ask them to sign on to the “dear appropriator” letters for two critical pieces of library funding: the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL). Please share this widely and encourage your colleagues, coworkers, friends and family to contact the offices of their Senators as well. This is an extremely tough budget year, and without huge grassroots support (i.e. thousands of voters contacting Congress), the nation’s libraries will lose this critical funding. The deadline to sign the letter is May 19.
- Go here to contact your Senators’ offices: http://cqrcengage.com/ala/home –ready to use messages are waiting for you!
- Check up on your Senators after you contact them. Use ALA’s easy tracking tool to find out if your Senators signed the letters. Then thank them if they did, or contact them again if they haven’t yet done so.
- To learn more about the issue, read this ALA blog post.
Thank you for all that you do to support teens and libraries and don’t forget we have everything you need to be a part of National Library Legislative Day, May 2, on the wiki as well as 10 other ways you can take action right now to support libraries!
P.S. If you’ve been trying by phone to reach your Senator and the lines are busy, try Resistbot instead
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. Continue reading
Because the White House’s budget proposes eliminating all federal funds for libraries, YALSA’s Board of Directors has re-opened the travel stipend application in order to send an additional member to Washington DC to advocate for teens and libraries. The stipend, funded by Friends of YALSA, will enable one qualified recipient to receive up to $1,000 to attend ALA’s 2017 National Library Legislative Day, in Washington, DC, May 1-2, 2017. Apply online by April 10, 2017. Applicants will be notified the week of April 17, 2017. The Board is specifically seeking applicants from states other than Pennsylvania and Texas, as those are the two states being represented by other YALSA NLLD travel stipend winners.
P.S. for other ways to stand up for teens and libraries, read this earlier YALSAblog post
Please contact the office of your Representative in the House and ask them to sign on to the “dear appropriator” letters for two critical pieces of library funding: the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL). Please share this widely and encourage your colleagues, coworkers, friends and family to contact the offices of their Reps as well. This is an extremely tough budget year, and without huge grassroots support (i.e. thousands of voters contacting Congress), the nation’s libraries will lose this critical funding. The deadline to sign the letter is April 3.
- Go here to contact your Rep’s office: http://cqrcengage.com/ala/home –ready to use messages are waiting for you!
- To learn more about the issue, read this ALA blog post
Thank you for all that you do to support teens and libraries!
P.S. If you’ve been trying by phone to reach your Rep and the lines are busy, try Resistbot instead
In order to continue to raise awareness about the critical role that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) plays in supporting teens through libraries, we encourage you to consider sending a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. We’ve created a sample letter that you can adapt. As an alternative, you might ask a teen patron or a library supporter to adapt and send the letter. Why are letters to the editor important? The Congressional Management Foundation says that this is an effective strategy for reaching your member of Congress and raising awareness about an issue that’s important to you. Congressional staffers monitor news outlets looking for articles and letters that mention their member of Congress and share the item with them, because the opinions of voters influence a Congress member’s position on an issue. For additional details about why it’s critical to advocate for IMLS, and to find out further ways you can take action, read these blog posts: March 16, and March 20
The White House budget released last week called for the elimination of the only federal agency that supports the nation’s libraries, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Doing away with IMLS would negatively impact every library in the U.S. by eliminating over $200 million in library funding that is distributed to every library in the U.S. through state library agencies. In order to prevent this from happening, there must be a sustained grassroots effort to advocate for restoring IMLS to the federal budget between now and when the budget is finalized in October. Because without those funds, teens will lose access to resources, services and experts they need to help them succeed in school and prepare for college, careers and life.
By now, we hope you’ve already contacted your members of Congress to tell them to oppose the elimination of IMLS. If you haven’t, read the details in my March 16 blog post and take action. Here’s what you can do next: invite one of your Representatives or Senators to visit your library, or bring some of your teen patrons and library advocates to the Congressperson’s local office to meet with them, so your elected official can see up close and in person the many ways that libraries, with support from IMLS, help teens. Congress will be on break from April 8th through April 23rd. This is the perfect time to extend the invitation to visit or schedule a meeting. If you’ve never done this before, don’t sweat it. YALSA’s District Days wiki page has everything you need to extend an invitation and plan a great visit or meeting. Continue reading
The White House budget that was released March 16 calls for eliminating the Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS), the only federal agency charged with providing support to the nation’s hundreds of thousands of libraries and museums. ALA and YALSA need your help to ensure that IMLS is saved, because without libraries teens will not have the resources and support they need to succeed in school and prepare for college, careers, and life. Here’s what you can do right now:
- Contact the offices of your two U.S. Senators by May 19 and ask them to support library funding. Check this web page to see if they have already. If they have, thank them. If they haven’t ask them to sign on to the Dear Appropriator letter supporting federal library funds.
- Meet with your Congress members May 27 – June 4 when they’re back at home because Congress is taking a recess
- Invite your members of Congress or their local staff to attend your summer learning kick-off or end of the school year bash. Use the sample messaging and tips on the YALSA wiki.
- Adapt this sample letter to the editor and send it to your local paper
- Use the sample messages in this document to contact the offices of your members of Congress
- Share your photo or story via this form of how support from IMLS has enabled you and your library to help the teens in your community. YALSA will use this information to advocate against the elimination of IMLS
- Sign up via this web page to receive updates on the #SaveIMLS effort
- Join YALSA, or make a donation, because together we’re stronger. YALSA’s the only organization that supports and advocates for teen services. Dues start at $61 per year. Your support will build our capacity to advocate for teens and libraries
- Add this #SaveIMLS Twibbon to your social media graphics & put a similar message in your email signature
- Make plans to connect with your members of Congress when they’re in their home districts July 29 – Sept. 4. Schedule a meeting at their local office, and/or invite them to your library. YALSA has free resources and tips to make this an easy task!
- Encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to do the above as well
- Are you a daughter or son of Donald Trump? Then please ask him to rescind his proposal to eliminate IMLS and all federal funds earmarked for libraries. Many thanks!
Don’t know much about IMLS? Here’s a quick overview: through IMLS, every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. territories receive funding to support their state’s libraries and museums. In FY14 the total funding IMLS distributed to states and territories was $154,800,000. In addition, IMLS offers competitive grant opportunities that individual libraries and museums can apply for. In FY14 they awarded 594 grants (from 1,299 applications) totaling more than $54,700,000. Visit the IMLS site to see how much funding your state receives from them.
Want to take further action to support teens and libraries? We salute you! Check out the free online resources we have to make speaking up for teens and libraries easy.