Literary Activism

Libraries Won a Victory In Congress: Here’s How You Can Help Them Win More

Kristen Twardowski

Staff Writer

Kristen Twardowski stumbled her way through working with wolves and libraries and found her professional home doing marketing and data analysis in the publishing industry. Though there will always be a place in her heart for numbers and graphs, the rest of her love is given to words. She recently published her debut novel, a psychological thriller called When We Go Missing, and blogs about books and writing on her website A Writer's Workshop.

Earlier this year President Trump threatened to defund public libraries. First the library community responded with horror. Then people rallied by protesting, contacting legislators, and highlighting the ways that libraries serve places across the United States. It looks like all of that hard work has paid off. Despite the threat, libraries may receive funding after all.

While determining the U.S. government’s budget for fiscal year 2018, a subgroup of the House Appropriations Committee voted to recommend that libraries receive the same amount of funding that they received for fiscal year 2017. This a huge step and would mean that:

  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services would get around $231 million
  • About $183 million would go towards the Library Services and Technology Act
  • And the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program would have access to about $27 million

    Of course there is still a long road ahead. In the coming days, the main House Appropriations Committee will vote on the full budget proposal. And there is a chance that this larger group will ignore the subcommittee’s recommendation.

    Though biting your nails and waiting for their vote to happen is a reasonable response, here are a few things you can do to show your support for the continued funding of libraries.

    • Check to see if your lawmakers have signed the ALA’s “Dear Appropriator” letters, which speak in favor of library funding. The database is a little complicated, but you are looking for the cheery looking Y’s in the columns labeled FY18 IAL (for Innovative Approaches to Literacy) and FY18 LSTA (for the Library Services and Technology Act). If your legislators haven’t signed it, encourage them to do so.
  • And thank the House Appropriations subcommittee members who voted to recommend funding for libraries. Politicians hear from a lot of angry constituents. Expressing gratitude when they vote in favor of things you agree with can go a long way.