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.

The ALA Washington office is gearing up for the announcement of the draft budget.  Once the budget is officially released, an Action Alert will go live on the ALA Action Center, along with a detailed blog post on District Dispatch.

While the White House issues a draft budget, it’s important to keep in mind that Congress has full control over the budget, not the President. The budget cycle is a long one and will go on into the fall of this year.  Library staff, patrons and supporters should be on the look-out for calls to speak up for libraries.  Regardless of what the draft White House budget says about libraries and IMLS, it’s always important to advocate throughout the budget process to ensure that libraries continue to receive critical federal funding.  Congress has to prioritize where funds go, so projects that lack widespread grassroots support often are the ones that end up on the chopping block.  Don’t let this happen to libraries!

To prepare for the months’ long budget cycle and advocacy work that goes with it, you can:

  1. Sign up via the ALA site to receive action alerts so you can easily email or call the offices of your Congress members at critical times during the budget process.
  2. Read and subscribe to District Dispatch, the ALA Washington Office’s blog.
  3. Encourage your library users to share their stories about what their local library means to them.  ALA will use these with their advocacy efforts.  Direct patrons to this quick and easy form.
  4. Brush up on your advocacy knowledge and skills by checking out the resources on YALSA’s web site.
  5. Connect with your members of Congress when they’re in their home districts to keep them informed about the many ways the library helps community members.  Congress is typically not in session the week of a national holiday, like Presidents’ Day.  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!
  6. 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 $63 per year.  Your support will build our capacity to advocate for teens and libraries
  7. Encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to do the above as well.

Thank you! Together we can ensure that all teens will have access to great library services and resources.

-Beth Yoke

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