Thursday, March 20, 2014

Support Library Funding: Contact your U.S. Senators and Reps Today

Support Library Funding
Contact your U.S. Senators and Reps Today
District Dispatch: 3.19.2014 by Jeffrey Kratz

Please contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives 
by going to the Legislative Action Center and urge them to support funding in FY 2015 for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL).

There are currently two letters circulating in the House of Representatives and the Senate. One letter (a letter in the House and a in the Senate) is asking for support of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) in the FY 2015 Appropriations bill. The other letter (a letter in the House and a in the Senate) is asking for support for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program also in the FY 2015 Appropriations bill. To find out if your legislators have signed one of the letters this year, view this chart (pdf). If not please contact him/her and encourage them to do so. If your Senator or Representative has signed one of these letters, please thank him/her for their support of libraries.

Read below for some background information on LSTA and IAL.

Is the primary source of annual funding for libraries in the federal budget.  The bulk of this program is a population-based grant funded to each state through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Each state determines how they will allocate their LSTA funds, often relying upon this money to provide job searching databases, resume workshops, summer reading projects, and so much more. In addition, LSTA also supports:
•Native American and Native Hawaiian Library Services to support improved access to library services for Native Americans, Alaska Native Villages, and Native Hawaiians
•National Leadership Grants to support activities of national significance that enhances the quality of library services nationwide and provide coordination between libraries and museums
•Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians which is used to help develop and promote the next generation of librarians.

From 2002 to 2010, the Improving Literacy through School Libraries program had been the primary source of federal funding for school libraries. However, in recent years the President and U.S. Congress have consolidated or zero-funded this program. ALA gives a special thanks to Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) who recognized that school libraries need a direct funding source in the federal budget. In FY 2012, through report language in the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill, the two redirected money to the U.S. Department of Education to create the IAL program.

With Improving Literacy through School Libraries being defunded, IAL has taken over as the primary source of federal funding for school libraries.  Focusing on low income schools, these funds help many schools bring their school libraries up to standards. This money is not enough to help every school library, but it does help some with updating materials and equipment, allowing children from disadvantaged areas to have opportunities to become college and career ready.

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