Congress’ process for funding programs is in full swing and millions in federal funding for libraries hang in the balance. There’s never enough money to go around, and Members are always looking for programs to “zero out” so they can reallocate those budgets to their pet projects. Right now, the real keys to saving library funding from the chopping block – particularly the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) programs — are the members of the powerful House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Your Representative in the House and two Senators have influence with those Committee members, so it’s important that your Members let the Appropriations Committee know of their support for continued library funding.
The best way for them to do that is to sign what we call “Dear Appropriator” letters that three Members of Congress who are huge library champions have drafted to the members of the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate. The more Members of Congress that we can get to sign these “Dear Appropriator” letters, the better the chance of preserving and securing real money for libraries.
But there’s a catch – Members of Congress generally only add their names to “Dear Appropriator” letters if they hear from their own constituents. Right now, it’s your Representative in the House who needs to sign LSTA and IAL “Dear Appropriator” letters.
With the March 20 deadline for signatures fast approaching, it’s urgent that you email or phone your own Representative today by calling (202) 225-3121, asking the Operator to connect you to your Representative’s office (you can find out who that is easily here) and ask the person who answers to ask their boss to add their name to “Dear Appropriator” letters supporting LSTA and IAL currently being circulated by our champions in Congress. To see whether your Members of Congress signed the letters last year, view the FY 2015 Funding Letter Signees document (pdf). If so, please be sure to thank and remind them of that when you email or call!
We’ll be back to you in a few days to ask that you do the same with your two Senators, but right now it’s all hands on deck for the House push. Background material can be found on District Dispatch. Click the links below to call or email your Representative. Call Your Representative! Send an Email!
Note: these letters are due before the end of the month so you will need to call or email this week.