From May 7-8, about 400 library supporters, employees, patrons, trustees and educators met with various members of Congress to talk about important library issues during National Library Legislative Day. The major focus of the event was to support federal funding for national libraries
Pro-library advocates talked about the increased need to protect the federal funding of libraries and to increase access to scholarly journal articles that are given federal funds.
As part of the activities of the week, strong library advocate Mary Ann Bretzlauf earned the White House Conference on Library and Information Services Taskforce Award. She received this honor for her strong efforts to support national libraries. Also, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-NB, received the United for Libraries’ 2013 Public Service Award for his strong support of libraries around the country
The advocates who traveled all the way to Washington are viewed by many citizens as true nation builders for the country because they help other citizens to reach their full education potential
As part of the week, many librarians from Iowa traveled to Washington DC to lobby their own congressman from Iowa to support further funding of national libraries. Librarians from the state of Iowa government, St. Ambrose University, the Iowa Library Association and the University of Iowa library system all took part in briefings by the American Library Associationn. Then, they went to the office’s of the senators and congressmen in Iowa to discuss the key role of federal funding in making better library services available in the state.
The group also talked about the important role that teacher librarians have in teaching students to think in a critical manner and to develop themselves into digital citizens who are informed and knowledgeable, and can help to use and integrate technology effectively in libraries.
It is important for leaders in various states to take part in National Library Legislative Day, according to the executive director of the American Library Association. Libraries are very important in helping to connect citizens with critical resources and information that they need to get jobs, to develop new skills, finish homework assignments and to properly educate themselves.
According to the American Library Association, federal funding is of critical importance to the continuing growth of libraries around the country. Most federal library funds are given out through the Institute of Museum and Library Services to each state. It is very important for this flow of funds to continue, because the amount of funding a library gets will have a major influence on the services it can provide.
It is true that the majority of public library funding comes from the state and localities, but federal funding is very important to help libraries to continue to serve their communities.
Since the recession started in 2007, the federal budget has been cut for many domestic programs. Library funds have been cut and also many programs that benefit libraries also have been chopped.
According to the recent budget proposal by the president, the Library Services and Technology Act will be funded at $177 million for FY 2013. This is more than FY 2012 by $2 million but it still well under the level that was going to be funded before the sequester hit – $185 million.
The request from the president did not include additional funding for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program. This is a fund in the Department of Education budget that Congress included in FY 2012. The ALA wants to see funding restored to this program as soon as possible as it could have serious negative effects on child literacy rates.