Each year the federal budgeting process kicks off when the White House releases a draft budget. This will happen sometime in February, and there’s talk that the FY19 draft budget may be released on February 12, 2018. If you recall last year, the White House’s draft budget called for the elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as well as all of the federally earmarked funds that the nation’s libraries depend on to provide critical services to their community. However, a grassroots advocacy effort led Congress to keep funding for IMLS and libraries for FY18.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Sheikla Blount, library media specialist at Columbiana Middle School in Columbiana, Alabama. Ms. Blount was recently named one of the recipients of the I Love My Librarian Award. The award is a collaborative program of Carnegie Corporation of New York, the New York Public Library, The New York Times and the American Library Association. A graduate of Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama, Sheikla clearly has a passion for libraries and children. She’s involved in the middle school, even outside the library, and the sponsor for the Junior United Nations Assembly and yearbook club. Continue reading
Currently a petition is circulating among ALA members that attempts to put a measure on the ALA spring ballot in an effort to overturn the most recent decision by ALA Council to change the language of the job announcement for the next ALA Executive Director from “MLIS preferred” (or CAEP/school librarian equivalent) back to MLIS required. YALSA’s Board of Directors strongly favors retaining the current status that prefers that candidates hold the MLIS/CAEP degree rather than require it. We feel that in order to effectively lead a professional organization the size and scope of ALA, a person’s skill as an association executive is critical. If there is a degreed librarian with these skills, that would be most desirable.
A common question that I get, especially from new board members, is about where funds come from to support YALSA and its members. The answer is pretty straightforward, although not one many people expect. Member dues make up only about a third of YALSA’s total funding. The other two thirds comes from product sales (award seals, books & e-learning); events (YA Services Symposium & ticketed events at ALA conferences); grants; corporate sponsorships; interest from YALSA’s endowments; and individual donations. Many people are surprised to learn that funds from ALA or the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) are not a part of YALSA’s annual budget. Actually, YALSA receives important services from ALA, such as HR and legal counsel, but not regular financial support. IMLS offers competitive grants that YALSA is eligible for, and we have been awarded two. If you’re interested, you can learn more about YALSA finances in my latest annual report.
All the funds that come into YALSA, from whatever source, are used to
- Provide members with services and support, like free monthly webinars and the summer learning grants we now have available
- Create and share resources with the library community, at no cost to library staff, such as our short, informational videos and newest toolkit about teen literacies
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).
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
Welcome to the YALSAblog News of the Month. In this post we highlight a few news items from the past month that we think are of interest to staff working with teens in libraries, schools, and youth development organizations.