Below is a message that the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office asked for me to pass along to my colleagues in Maryland. It highlights the recent advocacy success of the libraries in Montgomery County and how the same model can be used at the federal level with Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA) funding.
The Dear Colleague letters in support of LSTA and the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries (ILTSL) program were recently delivered to the leadership of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Of the Maryland Representatives, Congressman Van Hollen signed onto the ILTSL letter and Congressman Ruppersberger signed onto both the LSTA and ILTSL letters. (See the District Dispatch posting for details.) Thank you for all of your advocacy efforts and I encourage you to thank Congressman Van Hollen and Ruppersberger for their support.
It is not too late to try and gain additional support for LSTA and ILTSL. You can still contact members of the House to ask for their support and a Dear Colleague letter will soon be available for the Senate. Phone numbers are listed in the message below and a Capwiz Action Alert, including a pre-written letter, is available.
From the ALA Washington Office:
As many of you know, the Montgomery County Council recently pushed for a $2.8 million cut to the library budget, but – thanks to a little creative advocacy – $2.3 of the of the proposed cut was restored.
On the day of the final vote, citizens showed up wearing orange T-shirts that said, “Libraries Matter. No more cuts.” Their show of support for their local libraries persuaded the council to change its mind. Read the full story here.
This local approach can also work on the federal level, as “all politics is local.” Your advocacy is urgently needed now, as Congress delves into the FY2012 Appropriations process.
The Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) is the primary source of federal funding for libraries. Currently, neither the House nor the Senate has marked up the appropriations legislation that funds the LSTA, but we know we have a fight ahead of us. The President’s FY2012 budget request called for a 10 percent cut to this program.
Libraries fill in the gaps when other government services are cut, and now is the time to give Congress same message the citizens of Montgomery County took to their council members: Libraries Matter. No more cuts.
Please call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and contact Senators Mikulski and Cardin as well as your representatives and ask them to restore LSTA funding. For background information on LSTA, click here.