February 18, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

A Call to Action on Proposed 2019 Federal Budget

The American Library Association (ALA) and EveryLibrary have issued immediate and urgent calls to action after the White House released the proposed federal budget for 2019, which includes eliminating the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and defunding the Department of Education’s Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) grant program.

With the proposed cuts, the budget would be “terminating the only two sources of federal funding dedicated to supporting America’s libraries,” according to EveryLibrary.

While there are many legislative steps to go before these proposals would become a reality, the organizations want library advocates to start putting pressure on members of Congress immediately to keep it from happening.

“EveryLibrary is calling on people from all walks of life to get involved, whether they use the library themselves or simply understand that our nation is stronger, more secure, and more successful when people have access to the essential content, programs and services libraries provide,” the organization’s statement said.

“If the Institute of Museum and Library Services is closed as planned, state libraries around the country will lose critical funding for services supporting the blind and visually impaired, 24/7 homework help for students, and vital programs for veterans and their families,” John Chrastka, executive director of EveryLibrary, said in the statement. “Voting Americans need to respond with urgency in order to build Congressional support and protect these devastating cuts from moving forward.”

To that end, EveryLibrary updated its action center. It provides additional information and tools for anyone looking to join the fight to save the funding.

The association is also pushing people to act. The organization’s advocacy and Fund Libraries pages on its website offer resources to help library advocates contact members of congress in various ways, including via Twitter. The pages also offer links to legislative bills to watch, information about how the loss of IMLS would impact your state, graphics to post on social media and even ways to make the #FundLibraries hashtag part of your Facebook or Twitter profile picture to push awareness.

ALA president Jim Neal, who just a few days before was praising Congress for rejecting similar cuts proposed in the 2018 budget deal, did not mince words in his statement about the 2019 plan.

“The administration’s FY2019 budget is out of touch with the real needs of Americans and the priorities of leaders in Congress who represent them,” he said in the statement. “The president miscalculates the value of more than 120,000 libraries across America.”

The IAL grant program from the U.S. Department of Education supports school libraries and non-profit literacy organizations working to improve reading skills at the most critical early years of a child’s development, according to the ALA.

“This administration’s new budget also decreases resources for children,” Neal said. “Cutting federal support for programs like Innovative Approaches to Literacy comes at the cost of early literacy and improved student achievement, especially in the most underserved areas of our nation.”

According to EveryLibrary, approximately $15 million dollars is awarded to Title I school libraries through the grant program that rewards libraries for “advancing achievement and driving better academic outcomes for students in at-risk districts.”

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