ALA launches FY 2025 #FundLibraries campaign, urges Congress to fully fund key federal programs

Dear Appropriator letters open through end of April in Congress

The American Library Association (ALA) officially launched the annual #FundLibraries campaign on April 15. The campaign calls on advocates in every congressional district to ask their members of Congress to cosign Dear Appropriator letters to fund the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program. The LSTA letter, circulated by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) in the Senate and by Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-07) and Don Bacon (R-NE-02) in the House, calls for $232 million in funding. The IAL letter, circulated by Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA-02) and Don Bacon (R-NE-02) in the House and U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) in the Senate, calls for $50 million in funding.  

ALA President Emily Drabinski said, “Libraries grow communities in many ways: families read more and they read together; students at every level get homework help and learn how to learn; and workers find jobs, develop new skills and receive support to start their own businesses. Libraries help schoolchildren recapture learning lost during the pandemic and keep everyone connected to the internet.  

“Vibrant libraries make vibrant communities,” said Drabinski, “and that takes funding. Now is the time to invest in institutions that help communities get ahead.”  

Administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), LSTA is the only source of dedicated federal funding for the 123,000 public, school, academic, government and special libraries across the nation. LSTA Grants to States ensure that every state has access to needed resources and authority to determine their use, which include a wide range of essential services such as Wi-Fi and hotspot lending, access to technology and digital skills training, summer reading programs, employment support and materials for people with print disabilities.   

The LSTA letters call on appropriators to provide at least $232 million, the maximum funding allowed under current authorization of the program. The high-water mark for LSTA funding was in FY 2010, when Congress appropriated $213 million for the program. Adjusted for inflation, FY 2024 funding of $211 million amounts to $77 million less than in FY 2010. 

“For four years straight, libraries overcame threats to eliminate IMLS. Our combined advocacy not only preserved the agency but increased funding for LSTA with bipartisan support,” Drabinski said. “Our communities know what libraries mean to them and how damaging it would be to cut funding. Now we need to remind elected leaders of what libraries have achieved for their constituents. By pulling together now, we can reach LSTA funding levels that are more in line with Congress’s intention when they reauthorized the program in 2018.”   

Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) is the only federal program dedicated to supporting school libraries in the most high-need areas. Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, IAL discretionary grants provide books, parental engagement programs and professional development for library experts to ensure children are best positioned for success. Much of the $30 million in funding is reserved for the work of school libraries. Currently, only 19 states receive IAL grants. The additional $20 million requested by ALA for the IAL program would allow students in many other states to receive better literacy support and services.    

Advocates can contact their federal leaders through ALA’s #FundLibraries action center. ALA also is encouraging libraries, associations and other institutions to send official requests to their members of Congress. Letters in the House and Senate will stay open through April. ALA tracks  signatures on Dear Appropriator letters and updates them in real time at ala.org/fundlibraries, where more information can be found on the FY 2025 #FundLibraries campaign.  

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