Advocacy Alert from the ALA Washington Office: MLSA
At the end of 2017, the Museum and Library Services Act of 2017 was introduced by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). The 2017 MLSA (S. 2271) reauthorizes the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), showing congressional support for the federal agency. IMLS administers funding through the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA), the only federal program that exclusively covers services and funding for libraries. LSTA provides more than $183 million for libraries through the Grants to States program, the National Leadership Grants for Libraries, the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, and Native American Library Services.
Why this is important:
A federally funded agency or program typically requires an "authorization", which is legislation passed by Congress providing its justification. The authorization must be periodically reauthorized. IMLS and LSTA were last authorized in 2010, and the authorization expired in 2016. Although an authorization is not a requirement for a program to receive federal funding, passage of a reauthorization sends a strong signal of support to the Appropriations Committees.
An agency lacking an authorization risks becoming a target for elimination by "budget hawks" in Congress. With the FY 2019 budget looming, it is important for IMLS to be reauthorized.
What you can do:
Contact your Senators and urge them to show support for libraries by becoming a cosponsor of S. 2271. Tell them how your library supports the constituents of their state, and tell them how LSTA funds enable your library to offer valuable services to your community
ReadersFirst encourages all library staff and supporters to sign!