If you are a legislator, or other library stakeholder: THANK YOU for your support!!
We are here to help our communities,
and we need your support to do it all!
It is no secret. Here at CMLE Headquarters we just love libraries!! Our job is to support our member libraries (more than 300 of them), and it is a fantastic mission.
We want everyone else to join us in our love and support of libraries.
So we host periodic Postcard Parties for our members.
We invited everyone to send postcards to their stakeholders, to tell them about the value libraries are bringing to the communities they serve.
Libraries are amazing! And, we provide amazing value!!
We provide a variety of library advocacy resources below. And if you have any questions about libraries, or library advocacy, and the value libraries bring to their communities: Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Here are just a few quick facts we shared about library value:
- There are more public libraries than Starbucks in the U.S.
- There are 2,854 visits per minute to public libraries in the US
- Libraries answer nearly 6.6 million questions weekly. Standing single file, the line of questioners would span from Miami, Florida to Juneau, Alaska.
- Americans go to libraries 3 times as often as they go to movies
- more people visit library programs that all MLB and NBA games combined
- highest achieving students attend schools with well-staffed and
well-funded school libraries
- Libraries strengthen local economies
- Libraries create healthier communities
- Libraries are the place for lifelong learning
- Libraries provide technology
- library computers are used +7 million times, with a value of $30,546,094
- for every $1 invested in MN public libraries, $4.62 in value is returned
- public libraries provide impact of 4,202 jobs to Minnesota
- public library operations deliver an estimated 3,674 jobs to Minnesota
I hope you have read the news about the threatened closure of our federal funding agency, the Institute for Library and Museum Services (IMLS).
- This is the source of money for all our LSTA grants – between $500,000 and $600,000 each year in Minnesota.
- They provide nearly $3 million each year to Minnesota for library services.
- Part of that money, nearly $1.2 million funds Minitex to provide statewide interlibrary loan delivery – reaching nearly every public library in the state, most colleges and universities, and some schools.
- Minitex also provides statewide instruction in ELM (Electronic Library for Minnesota) that I know many of you use daily.
- Nearly $550,000 of this money supports the Minnesota Braille and Talking Book Library, serving around 10,000 people every year, in addition to institutions across the state.
- It also funds data collection, software subscriptions, Early Literacy Training, bookmarks, posters, the Libraries Serving Youth Meetup, and more.
If IMLS is eliminated – all these programs will either also be eliminated, or will force the shifting of priorities and funding from other library services here in Minnesota.
ALA Advocacy Resources
- I Love Libraries Supporting one of our nation’s most valuable resources
- Library Advocate’s Handbook
- ALA Office for Library Advocacy
- EveryLibrary Any library initiative anywhere matters to every library everywhere
- How To Choose & Approach a Corporate Partner for Your Non-Profit
- Keeping Our Message Simple “Here’s the fundamentally different approach to advocacy we need to adopt—yesterday”
- Library Snapshot Day
- Open Secrets Not strictly “advocacy” but you can track how money flows in political campaigns – a powerful tool to advocate for your message!
Some tools to find your elected officials:
- State of Minnesota
- Governor and Executive branch: https://mn.gov/portal/government/state/governor-and-officials/
- Legislature: https://mn.gov/portal/government/state/legislature/ and https://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/DistrictFinder
- Local officials
- Google your city’s website
- Check your school’s website for board members
There are many different ways of calculating the value a library returns to its community – but all methods come up with the same result: We are an enormous value! Work through some of these ideas, to be able to show your funders and stakeholders all the value you are providing!
- Minnesota Public Libraries’ Return on Investment
- School Library Research
- The Impact of School Libraries on Student Achievement: Exploring the School Library Impact Studies (2010)
- Libraries Matter: Impact Research
- Impact on Literacy and Education
A great program, filled with all kinds of useful marketing and advocacy material for Minnesota libraries!
Browse their website to see all the resources available to you.
From their site:
What is this program?
This is a statewide campaign sponsored by CRPLSA to gather stories of the impact libraries have in their communities. It is being conducted both as an old-fashioned “mail in” advocacy effort and an online campaign. You will ask patrons to fill out postcards telling stories about why they love their library, or to visit a website and fill out an online form with their story. You collect the responses and send them to SELCO at the end of the campaign period. We’ll sort the responses to bring to the correct legislators on Minnesota’s Library Legislative Day in March 2017.
What do we hope to accomplish?
Legislators often say they want to hear from their constituents, and libraries are looking for ways to show the impact they have on their communities. What better way to accomplish both than to ask library users themselves to share their stories?
From the ALA’s District Dispatch:
The talk of Washington and the library community (when people aren’t talking about the President’s tweets, anyway) is the recent recommendation by the President to completely eliminate funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), including their library funding implementing the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program within the Department of Education. Here are the top ten things that you need to know about saving IMLS and more than $210 million in annual federal library funding that will be going on all year.
10. Exactly how much money are we talking about?
LSTA received $183.4 million in FY 2016 while IAL received $27 million. These funding levels are essentially the same for FY 2017 as the year before because Congress failed to enact almost any of the twelve individual appropriations bills that fund specific parts of the federal government and is keeping the governments doors open under a series of temporary authorizations called Continuing Resolutions, or “CRs” in Beltway-speak. Under the terms of a CR, programs are funded at the previous year’s levels (though this year the CR includes a de minimus across the board cut of less than 0.5%). If Congress returns from its upcoming April recess on April 24 and figures out how to pass 11 of the 12 unfinished FY 2017 appropriations bills in less than a week, funding levels for FY 2018 could change. However, that narrow window for Congressional action makes another CR running through the end of the current fiscal year (September 30, 2017) vastly more likely.
9. Why this doesn’t matter:
Congress almost always treats the President’s budget submission, which has no force of law, as “DOA.” As noted above, to actually fund the government, Congress is supposed to pass 12 separate appropriations bills. While that process can be messy and protracted, the key thing is that it’s controlled by the Appropriations Committees of the House and Senate which are free to ignore the President (and often do). Many Members of Congress and their staffs tell us that they are not giving serious consideration to the President’s “skinny budget.” So what’s all the fuss about?!?
8. Why this DOES matter:
The Republican party is now in control of both chambers of Congress and the Administration. As you may have seen during last week’s debacle surrounding efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Republicans (at least in the House) are hardly a unified party. However, there are a significant number of conservatives in Congress that would love to deconstruct much of the Federal government and are looking for programs, such as LSTA and IAL, to “zero out.” While libraries have strong allies on Capitol Hill, the President’s request provides ‘red meat’ to others and likely signals that this battle will continue beyond the current fight for FY 2018 funding for the duration of the Administration.
7. What is LSTA and the Grants to States program?
Of the $183.4 million last appropriated by Congress for LSTA, $155 million is dedicated to the Grants to State program. By law, every state gets a portion of that sum per a population-based formula (and subject to a 34% state matching requirement.) Each state librarian or library agency then determines the best use of those funds in their state. In some states, the funds go for the development and maintenance of statewide lending, shared databases, or other state-wide tools. In others, funding is provided for specific programs to, for example: assist veterans transitioning to civilian life, help small businesses to develop an on-line presence, underwrite summer reading programs, foster programs for families with disabled children or even help a small library replace part of their collection lost in a flood. Note: because states are required to match 34% of the Federal funding commitment, a cut on the Federal level necessarily means a cut in state library funding too.
6. What is the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program and why are we talking about it separately from IMLS and LSTA?
IAL grants, which are awarded by the Department of Education rather than IMLS, are the only dedicated source of Federal funding for school libraries and are not part of what was approved by Congress under the LSTA. School libraries can use IAL grant funds received to buy books and other materials in support of early literacy efforts directed to the nation’s neediest children. Of the $27 million appropriated for the program overall, at least half is reserved exclusively for school libraries while the remainder goes to non-profits (which may partner with libraries). Individual schools or school districts apply every two years for funding to the Department of Education. Awards typically go to schools for book distribution, literacy-technology tools and literacy training for teachers and families.
5. What is the ALA Washington Office doing to save IMLS and library funding?
The Washington Office is working early, late and every minute in between to ensure that no stone is left unturned and to keep IMLS, LSTA, IAL and other library funds from being eliminated in FY 2018. As we do every year, the Office of Government Relations’ staff regularly lobbies directly for library funding to Congressional offices individually and/or with multiple coalitions. (Coalitions allow ALA to share information with peers in Washington and amplify our message.)
This year, however, we are working even more closely with ALA leadership and the Association’s state Chapters to “raise the heat” on every Member of Congress to tangibly – not just broadly or rhetorically – support libraries. Specifically, at OGR’s request, ALA President Julie Todaro has conducted hour-long “call to arms” conference calls with all ALA Division Presidents, Executive Directors, caucus leaders, the Executive Board and all 51 Chapter Presidents to brief them on the current threats to library funding and how they can help mobilize library supporters to save IMLS and library funding.
At President Todaro’s request, we have even built a new one-stop-shopping webpage called “Fight for Libraries!” where library advocates can quickly contact Congress, sign up for alerts, share their own stories of what LSTA and IAL have meant in their libraries and communities, learn how to write a quick letter to the Editor of a local paper and access a wealth of other advocacy resources.
We are also coordinating closely, as always, with the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies and have – with special and invaluable help from Cengage Learning, Inc. – launched a new pro-library business coalition called “Libraries Mean Business” to help make libraries’ profound value to society and the economy clear to all Representatives and Senators.
IMPORTANT: All of these efforts are focused for starters on first getting as many Members of the House of Representatives – and soon thereafter as many Senators as possible – to sign two incredibly important letters, one supporting funds for LSTA and the other IAL, that will be delivered to their colleagues on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. The number of Members of Congress who sign these two “Dear Appropriator” letters can spell the difference between LSTA and IAL being eliminated or left unscathed by the budget ax!
4. Why are the Dear Appropriator letters so important?
Every year, ALA makes a strong push in March/April to ALA members to urge Representatives and Senators to sign the letters in support of LSTA and IAL (two letters in each chamber). The more signatures these letters gain—and the more bi-partisan— the stronger the message to the Appropriations Committees that these programs have wide support. A powerful Senator or Representative will ask the staff to find a program to cut to benefit their favored program. Staff has been known—off the record of course—to look at how many signatures in support various programs have garnered. Cutting a program with 15 signatures means fewer upset members than axing a program backed by 75 or 100 Members of Congress. It’s that simple.
3. Are the letters more important than ever this year?
YES! YES! YES! Need we say more? OK, we will. The President has sent a message to Congress that LSTA and IAL are not important, but we and our members know just how vital these funds and programs are. With so many programs on the chopping block, supporters of programs of all kinds are trying to ward off cuts with as many signatures as they can on their own letters. We have to win that competition. The letters for LSTA and IAL have always received solid support, but in the face of especially stiff headwinds, we need to double the number of LSTA and IAL Dear Appropriator signers that we most recently received.
2. So, specifically what can ALA members and other library lovers do to save LSTA and IAL?
Whether you can spare 5 minutes or 5 hours to help save $210+ million, here’s how you can get involved…today:
- Call, email and/or tweet at your Representative in the House now, and both your US Senators in May, and ask them to sign the LSTA and IAL “Dear Appropriator” letters now circulating. You’ll find talking points and everything else you need at ALA’s Legislative Action Center.)
- Share your library’s LSTA or IAL story through our Fight for Libraries! advocacy portal. Just click on the “Tell Your Story” button. (If you aren’t sure which LSTA grants your library has received, you can check IMLS’ searchable database.
- Sign up to receive information from the District Dispatch, the ALA Washington Office blog, and for our action alerts. We will let you know when and how to take action and send you talking points to make that fast and easy.
- Register to participate in National Library Legislative Day on May 1-2, either in Washington, D.C., or join us online for Virtual Library Legislative Day if a trip to DC isn’t in the cards this year.
1. The #1 thing you need to know about the fight to save LSTA and IAL funding?
It will not succeed without you – and the friends, colleagues, neighbors, patrons, customers, relatives and complete strangers that you actively recruit – getting involved TODAY and staying involved all through 2017. Without that sustained commitment on a scale that we have never achieved before, we will not succeed at a cost much greater than money to the hundreds of millions of people and businesses who depend on libraries.