Why You should Care about the FCC’s Attack on Net Neutrality

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

Federal Library Funding Update & Next Steps

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

An IMLS Overview

If you are anything like the general population you know that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) does SOMETHING with libraries (and museums) but you really have no idea what it does. We hope by now that you know that IMLS is on this year’s chopping block, per the White House’s proposed budget, but aren’t sure how it will affect you, and why it’s a big deal.

And these cuts are a Big Deal. The IMLS is fairly young, as government organizations go, having been created in 1996 by the Museum and Library Services Act (the act combined the Institute of Museum services and the Library Programs Office), and is reauthorized every 5 years, but it touches every state and US Territory in the country. IMLS now supports all libraries- public, academic, research, tribal, and special as well as every type of museum- from children’s to planetariums to history. Over 158,000 museums and libraries combined benefit from IMLS funds every year.

The majority of IMLS support to libraries is the Grants to States program. Grants to States is the biggest source of federal funding for libraries across the country. It is a bit of a misnomer, because these grants aren’t competitive or something that requires an application. Every state automatically receives funding from Grants to States based on population needs, over $150 million dollars in funds is distributed to libraries every year through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). Each state receives a base amount of $680,000 and each Territory receives a base amount of $60,000, which is then matched at the state level. (To find out how your state uses LSTA funds visit the IMLS State Profile Page.)

Each state or US Territory is able to determine how they will allot these funds, and many states distribute their library portion through their State Library. These funds support a variety of library functions and operations. States use this money to fund staff at state library agencies, continuing education for library workers, Talking Books programs (books for the blind and physically handicapped), broadband internet access, programs for teens, seniors, and at-risk populations, access to databases and downloadable books, and much more. Visit your state library’s web site to learn more about all of the resources and services they have available to help you help teens.

The IMLS also supports libraries through competitive grants, research, surveys, and policy development. The IMLS works in partnership with state agencies and museums to collect data and distribute the collected information to state and federal agencies. This data is used to identify the upcoming trends in library and museum services and to identify target needs across the country. These trends are studied and policies for best practices and plans to improve them are established. Initiatives on InterLibrary Loan, staffing, library governance, collections and more are developed through these extensive surveys and research.

Without the funding from the IMLS libraries will be facing far-reaching budget and service cuts. We will see the funds for things such as the databases we depend on for research dwindle, the funds for downloadable content dry up, and our state agencies will likely lose valuable staff that support our work at the local level. Statewide library funds will effectively be halved by these measures, putting library services and libraries at risk.

How can you help?

Facts and figures drawn from https://www.imls.gov/

Apply by April 10 for Funds to Attend National Library Legislative Day

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.

-Beth Yoke

P.S. for other ways to stand up for teens and libraries, read this earlier YALSAblog post

ACT NOW for LSTA and IAL! #saveIMLS

If you care about teens and how library services improve their lives, I need you to contact your House Representative to sign the House “Dear Appropriator” letters supporting LSTA and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL).  There are only two business days left, and in the last update received from ALA Washington, we don’t even have the same amount of supporters that we had last year! And we need so many more signers than that!

Check out the online tracking tool to see who needs contacted.  Historically, Democrats are more likely to sign onto the letters, but, as you can see from the tracker, many of them haven’t yet this year. Is your representative supporting LSTA? If not, call!  If so, call and thank him or her! We only have until April 3, so you need to contact them TODAY!

What do you do? Call. On this website, click on the red “Make a Call” box and then send a tweet and an email while you’re at it! Customize the provided messages.   Leave voice mails when you have to, but try to keep calling until you reach a staff member.

What do you say? Ask them to sign the LSTA Dear Appropriator letters TODAY. And you can even refer them to the staff of Rep. Raul Grijalva to add their name to the letter.

Why? Because we can’t provide quality services to teens without LSTA funds.

LSTA funding is close to my heart–you can see the proof in my resume.  My students have benefited from almost $70,000 of LSTA funding since FY05.  Grants doubled my high school budget in some years, while providing new technologies (back then) like a SmartBoard and wifi for my kids. I was able to provide internet safety workshops in my community–something I probably wouldn’t have initiated if it weren’t for the grant opportunity.   One year LSTA funds allowed me to bring in a reading specialist to provide professional development to my fellow high school teachers (because secondary education degrees didn’t prepare us to teach reading), and another year my collection grew to support AP History students.  Even now that I’m at a community college, my students have benefited from LSTA funds.  In 2014, my library purchased children’s and teen nonfiction books in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math and I gave presentations about using quality literature to meet the new Illinois learning standards (Common Core).  It’s impossible to list all the outcomes of the above grants in my community.  I still remember when I taught students about privacy on MySpace (yes, I’m old) and they were spurred into action to go straight home and change their settings (remember the days before smartphones?).

Please remember though that LSTA is more than just competitive grants.  In my state, LSTA funds provide the Illinois State Library Talking Book and Braille Service to over 12,000 residents who cannot read print because of physical or visual limitations. LSTA funds also supplement material delivery services in the state.  Total statewide delivery in FY16 was over 14 million items to patrons in need.  It’s a joy to see my college’s items being loaned to high school students in small towns hours away.  In FY17, Project Next Generation funded 19 grants to Illinois public libraries to encourage personal growth and the educational development of at risk students through the use of mentors, technology, and library based group projects. While the program helped to bridge the digital divide, students became more college and career ready, established relationships with positive role models, had fun, and learned new technologies.

Please gather your friends, family members, coworkers, and patrons, and send as many calls, emails and tweets that you possibly can today, Friday, and Monday.

In the words of Emily Sheketoff from the ALA Washington office, “We’re almost out of time and failure in this effort may well mean deep cuts in, or even the elimination of, LSTA funding for FY 2018. WE CANNOT AND MUST NOT FAIL.”

Contact your House Rep’s Office & Ask for Support on Two Library Bills

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.

Thank you for all that you do to support teens and libraries!

-Beth Yoke

P.S. If you’ve been trying by phone to reach your Rep and the lines are busy, try Resistbot instead

Support Teens: Send this Letter to Your Local Paper

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

-Beth Yoke

Plan Ahead to Make Time in April to Support Teens & Libraries

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

How You Can Save Federal Funding for Libraries & Help Teens

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:

  1. Sign on to this Thunderclap: Fight for Libraries (deadline is May 1)
  2. Participate in National Library Legislative Day on May 2.  Use the resources on YALSA’s wiki
  3. Contact the offices of your two U.S. Senators by May 19 and ask them to support library funding
  4. Meet with your Congress members May 27 – June 4 when they’re back at home because Congress is taking a recess
  5. Adapt this sample letter to the editor and send it to your local paper
  6. Use the sample messages in this document to contact the offices of your members of Congress
  7. 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
  8. Sign up via this web page to receive updates on the #SaveIMLS effort
  9. 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
  10. Add this #SaveIMLS Twibbon to your social media graphics & put a similar message in your email signature
  11. Encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to do the above as well
  12. 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.

Yesterday’s YALSA Member Town Hall

During yesterday’s YALSA town hall, members discussed  the different actions we can take as library staff and as private citizens to support teens, especially those who are the most vulnerable in this current social and political climate.

We discussed how to take social action for teens at the local level, and ways to engage teens in community events to help them become better citizens. We talked about how to welcome conversations on diverse issues, display and purchase diverse materials, and teach youth how to be kind, compassionate human beings. We talked about registering voters in the library, holding town halls, community archiving, interviewing local civil rights activists, and taking teens to legislative events at the state capitol building. Many excellent ideas were shared and we invite you to share yours on the Teen Programming HQ!

We shared many resources, like YALSA’s Advocacy webpage with the recently updated 2017 Advocacy Toolkit, as well as the Advocating for Teen Services in Libraries YALSA wiki page.  We reminded everyone of the Supporting Youth in the Post-Election Climate page that was created before last November’s town hall, as well as the Youth Activists’ Toolkit, that can be adapted for use in all types of libraries.  We talked about how communities of all sizes could benefit from a library having a resource like Los Angeles Public Library’s Citizenship webpage, A blogpost can’t list or describe all the great ideas that were shared during the town hall.  If you’d like to hear more, please listen and read the chat conversation.

Did you know that YALSA has a Legislation Committee? The Legislation Committee, chaired by Heather Dickerson, is currently evaluating advocacy and social action resources for YALSA members and teens to ensure that YALSA has the best information to serve our users in the current political climate. They’re also gearing up for National Library Legislative Day, and are seeking stories of how members have advocated for teens and libraries at the local, state, and national levels. The committee will send out a call for stories in the coming weeks. The committee is also reaching out to individuals from each state who will attend NLLD in Washington to ask for their help in delivering YALSA specific materials to our elected officials, with a particular emphasis on reaching out to members of Congress who serve on education-related committees.

Thanks for all you do to support teens in your community!