Museum and Library Services Act of 2018 Has PASSED!
On December 19, 2018 the Museum and Library Services Act (MLSA), S. 3530—legislation to reauthorize the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)—passed in the House. It had passed in the Senate on December 4, and was signed by the President on December 31.
The new legislation authorizes IMLS through 2025 and contains improvements to enable more libraries on tribal lands to participate in IMLS grant programs, permit use of IMLS funding for disaster preparedness and assistance, and encourage greater use of data-driven tools to measure the impact and maximize the effectiveness of library services. This bipartisan support also helps to insulate IMLS and the funding it administers through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) from elimination in future proposed budgets, and from rescission following the budget process. IMLS administers the Library Services and Technology Act, the only federal program that exclusively covers services and funding for libraries. The LSTA provided more than $183 million for libraries in FY2019, including $5.5 million here in Illinois; and is authorized at $232 million for FY2020.
You can thank Congress for passing the MLSA by using the email template on ALA’s legislative action center.
116th U.S. Congress; First Session
We ask Illinois Senators and Representatives to sign “Dear Appropriator” letters urging full funding in fiscal year 2020 for LSTA and for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) grant program, authorized in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Libraries and library funding generally enjoy bicameral, bipartisan support, evidenced by how many Illinois signatures we’ve had on such letters in recent fiscal years; please look for the 2020 versions in March.
You can see which Senators and Representatives have signed which letters on ALA's Fund Libraries page.
Support Restoration and Preservation of Net Neutrality
The FCC voted in 2017 to gut the net neutrality protections that limit the power of Internet Service Providers to slow websites, block mobile apps, or in any way control the information we access. Modern libraries rely on the Internet to collect, create and disseminate essential online information and services to the public. Strong, enforceable net neutrality rules are critical to keeping the Internet working the way it does now. The Congressional Review Act gives Congress the ability and authority to nullify the FCC’s actions by adopting a Resolution of Disapproval. In May 2018, the Senate voted 52-47 in favor of a CRA Resolution of Disapproval; it is was not approved in the House and was therefore not forwarded to the President for signature. Currently, Illinois is among 22 states plus the District of Columbia to have joined in a suit against the FCC (Mozilla v. FCC) to restore the protections; ALA and ARL are two of nineteen signatories to an amicus brief. Oral arguments are scheduled to be heard in February 2019. Any further legislative action will follow the result of the pending litigation. Access ILA's Net Neutrality resources.
Oppose Transfer of Hiring Authority from Librarian of Congress to the President
S.1010, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, would transfer hiring authority for the Register of Copyright from the Librarian of Congress to a Presidential appointment with Senate confirmation. It was sponsored in the 115th Congress by Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and had small, bipartisan support among three cosponsors. The rationale for opposing this is three-fold: 1) it is unnecessary; 2) it would politicize this position; and 3) it would slow the hiring process. ILA opposes such legislation in the 116th Congress.
Support Strengthening the Federal Depository Library Program
The FDLP Modernization Act, HR 5305, was sponsored by Gregg Harper (R-MS) in the 115th Congress and had bipartisan support among eight cosponsors. This act would update the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) to improve public access to government information. The act would provide greater flexibility, facilitate collaboration, streamline program requirements, and allow more libraries to participate in the FDLP, making the program's services more widely available to the public. ILA supports such legislation in the 116th Congress.