On May 7th and 8th, I had the privilege of visiting Washington, D.C. to advocate for libraries. Since 1976, library representatives from across the country have traveled to DC to meet with their Senators and Representatives and talk about the importance of libraries. This year, Missouri had a delegation of 10 librarians representing school, academic, and public libraries throughout the state. We met with the staff of both Senators and all 9 U.S. Representatives. We were able to talk to Congressmen Billy Long (Springfield) and Lacy Clay (St. Louis). Cass County’s Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler met with us briefly, too, before heading to a committee meeting.
Why do we do this every year?
As our patrons know, libraries are extremely important. Besides offering access to books, audiobooks, and other materials, libraries are often a person’s connection to the world. Many people still do not have computers, and if they do, they do not have a consistent or reliable internet connection. A majority of job applications are online now, along with many formerly print publications. Encyclopedias, scholarly journals, and other reliable sources are now more readily available online, since it is easier, more cost-effective, and quicker to update an online resource. Libraries offer job training, skills building, citizenship help, language learning, early literacy, educational programming, and much, much more.
However, many people are not aware of the amazing resources libraries have to offer. Our legislators are often incredibly busy and may not about all of our resources we have or the impact we make. For the past 2 years, it has been recommended that all federal funding for libraries be eliminated. It is our duty to inform our legislators and advocate for them to continue funding library programs.
This year, we had 3 requests:
- Support the Museum and Libraries Services Act, a bi-partisan bill that re-authorizes the Institute of Museum and Libraries Services (IMLS). IMLS provides millions to libraries across the country to advance employment, entrepreneurship, education, empowerment and engagement in communities across America.
- Fully fund LSTA and IAL. Libraries Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants make technology advancements possible. Cass County Public Library has received multiple LSTA grants over years, and we were able to construct and upgrade the Harrisonville computer lab with those funds. We also receive Ready to Read grants each year to provide our youngest patrons with programming that helps build their literacy skills. The Innovative Approaches to Literacy initiative (IAL) was appropriated specifically to help school libraries that are underserved in the country.
- Support broadband, which libraries throughout the country provide, especially in rural areas where it is needed the most.
Though National Library Legislative Day only happens once per year, advocacy is year-round. We will always advocate for library funding, and we hope that you will, too. We want to be able to provide the services our Cass County community needs now and for years to come.
Head of Public Services
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