It's that time of year again: the American Library Association has officially kicked off its annual #FundLibraries campaign, triggered by the March 9 release of the Biden Administration's $6.8 trillion budget blueprint for 2024.
The good news: gone are the days of the Trump Administration proposing to eliminate the Institute for Museum and Library Services (and with it virtually all federal support for libraries). The not so good news: it's setting up to be a tough budget negotiation this year, and time is tighter than usual.
In a release this week, ALA officials are urging library advocates in every congressional district to ask their representatives to cosign "Dear Appropriator" letters in support of critical library programs, including the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program. And there's no time to wait. With an abbreviated process this year, the House deadline for signatures is March 20. Library advocates can support libraries by using the ALA's #FundLibraries action center, where you can contact your rep about the Dear Appropriator letters in about a minute. And you can track whether your representative has signed the letters here.
LSTA is the only source of dedicated federal funding for the more than 123,000 public, school, academic, government, and specialized libraries across the nation. IAL, which is administered by the Department of Education, is the only federal program dedicated to supporting school libraries in the most high-need areas.
"The more representatives we get to cosign the Dear Appropriator letters for LSTA and IAL, the better chance we have for congressional support throughout the budget process," explained ALA President Lessa Kanani'opua Pelayo-Lozada in an email this week. "This year we have 76 new members of the House of Representatives that need to know that their constituents value libraries. While many of us and our communities are facing challenges, we will not allow all the vital work of libraries to be lost in attacks on our collections and on our profession from a vocal minority.”
The LSTA "Dear Appropriator" letter, circulated by U.S. Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-07) and Don Bacon (R-NE-02), calls on House appropriators to provide at least $232 million for LSTA. The IAL letter, circulated by Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA-02) and Don Bacon (R-NE-02) call for $50 million for IAL.