Anyone remember a certain Republican Presidential candidate’s claim “I love the poorly educated”? Seems he is determined to Make America Poorly Educated – for the second year in a row, the White House budget proposal eliminates federal funding for libraries. Yup, you read that right. Libraries. Possibly the most popular institutions in this whole country, even in this digital age.
Most federal library funding comes through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), an independent grantmaking agency. IMLS provides more than $183 million for libraries through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), in grants promoting innovation, lifelong learning, research and access to information. For example: over the past few years here in California, LSTA has funded improving access to legal information in Eastern Alameda County; computer training for adults; bringing books to communities without libraries; special needs and inclusive library services; summer tutoring; and so much more. None of these cost much, but they all cost more than the local library systems could afford. And they’d all be gone under the Administration’s axe. The proposal also cuts $27 million in funding for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program, which helps school libraries buy books, materials, and training focused on serving students in underserved communities across America. Does $27 million sound like a lot of money? Consider that a certain someone wants a military parade that could cost even more … for one parade …
LSTA and IAL probably give the biggest economic and social bang for the buck in the entire federal budget. LSTA funds go to every state, every year, according to a population-based formula. Each state contributes matching funds and decides how best to use their grants. Without this funding, Americans across the country run the risk of losing access to valuable services, training and education that are only possible when they’re supported by the federal government.
What you can do:
It’s up to your members of Congress to stop this nonsense. Ask your MoCs to publicly oppose cuts to federal library funding and commit to fighting for libraries throughout the appropriations cycle.
- Print postcards to mail to your Members of Congress! We’ve designed a sheet with four postcards for you to send to your two Senators and your Representative. Give the extra to a friend! Print on stiff paper, with your document set to landscape orientation.
- Call or email your MoCs and say:
I am strongly opposed to cutting federal funding for libraries from the 2019 budget as the Administration wants to do. Federal library funding isn’t a big part of the budget but it funds important programs for everyone. These budget cuts would make libraries provide more services with less money, or cut services altogether. Our communities need our libraries and we need you to help save library funding through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Library Services and Technology Act, and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program.
Sen. Kamala Harris (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553; 333 Bush Street, Suite 3225, San Francisco CA 94104
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841; 1 Post Street, Suite 2450, San Francisco CA 94104
Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000 DC: (202) 225-2095; 440 Civic Center Plaza, 2nd Floor, Richmond, CA 94804
Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370 DC: (202) 225-2661; 1301 Clay Street #1000N, Oakland CA 94612
Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322 DC: (202) 225-5065; 3615 Castro Valley Blvd., Castro Valley CA 94546
More information here and here.