From the desk of Rand Simmons
Two pieces of legislation important to the people of Washington are working their way through Congress. Optimum support requires members of both the House and the Senate and from both parties sign on to “Dear Appropriators” letters.
The Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) is administered by the Washington State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State. The Senate letter notes that “LSTA is the only federal program that helps public libraries meet community needs, provide enhanced services through technology, reach underserved populations, and retain librarians while recruiting new entrants to this important field. Robust federal support for the state formula program and competitive grant provided by LSTA is more essential now than ever.”
Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) chair the Senate committee to obtain maximum allowable funding for the Act. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) signed the letter. State Librarian Rand Simmons had urged her to do so. Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA 2nd) signed the House letter. Currently the State Library receives about $3.3 million annually in LSTA funding and all types of libraries in Washington are eligible to receive funding and services.
Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) is a grant program under the Fund for the Improvement of education. The Senate letter states, “IAL provides competitive awards to school libraries and national not-for-profit organizations, including partnerships that reach families outside of local educational agencies, for providing books and childhood literacy activities to children and families in high need communities. The program also supports parental engagement and focuses on promoting student literacy from birth through high school.” Senators Blunt and Murray are also leading the quest for this funding.
Signers in the House include Representatives Denny Heck (D-WA 10th), Jim McDermott (D-WA 7th) and Adam Smith (D-WA 9th).
- Learn more about how the Washington State Library administers the Library Services and Technology Act at the Library’s web site.
- Information for this article came from the American Library Association’s Advocacy Works: Broad number of legislators back library funding. Links to Senate and House letters are provided.