Last year, Congress revived the practice of including earmarks in its appropriations bills after a 10-year absence. Earmark funding goes directly to the entity designated by Congress for the specified project. Earmarks are now formally called "Congressionally Directed Spending" in the Senate and "Community Project Funding" in the House.
In the draft fiscal year 2022 appropriations bills, ALA identified 27 projects involving libraries, totaling more than $32 million in funding. (Note that Congress has not yet completed the FY22 appropriations bills yet, although we don't expect these projects to change in the final bills.) Some of the funding has gone to library Foundations and Friends of the Library groups, as well as directly to libraries.
We encourage libraries to consider submitting project requests to their Members of Congress for next year's upcoming appropriations bills (FY23). An overall request deadline for FY23 has not yet been announced, but we have already seen a few Members of Congress with deadlines as early as this month. Now is a good time for interested libraries to begin thinking about potential projects.
Congressionally Directed Spending/Community Project Funding can support specific, one-time projects (not ongoing expenses like annual operating expenses). Last year, two-thirds of the library projects we saw were for building renovation or construction needs. Other library projects included activities related to telehealth, early literacy, and STEM. Recipients included school, academic, public, and state libraries. Most of the earmarks we saw last year were for amounts ranging from $50,000 to $1,000,000.
Interested libraries may wish to review the requests submitted last year by their Senators and Representatives to get a sense of what these requests look like. (Note that some Members of Congress did not submit requests in FY22, so not all Members of Congress are listed.)
The request process (including deadlines and forms) is handled through individual Congressmembers' offices. We encourage libraries, Foundations, and Friends with a potential project to discuss the idea with their Congressmember's office. Feel free to share this information with libraries in your community who may be interested in applying.
The information above was provided by ALA’s Public Policy & Advocacy Office.