Advocacy Action Steps: A Letter from The Friends’ President

This letter was sent to board members and staff of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library on March 16, 2017 in reaction to President Trump’s proposed budget.

Dear Friends Board Member:

President Trump released a partial outline of his 2018 budget today, and this budget includes spending cuts that will directly and severely affect libraries and the people we serve.

In addition to proposing the elimination of two highly-visible federal agencies that support and align with the work of libraries (the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities), the budget would eliminate the critically important Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The IMLS has provided nearly $1 million to the Saint Paul Public Library and we have a $250,000 pending application right now. In addition, proposed severe cuts to the Department of Education directly target programs and partnerships that involve library and literacy programs.

The result of these cuts would be devastating to libraries, including our Saint Paul Public Library. Over the coming weeks, The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library will work with the American Library Association and other library champions nationwide to mobilize and coordinate opposition to these proposed cuts. (Note: as a tax exempt 501 (c)(3) organization, The Friends is legally able to advocate on behalf of policy issues and proposed legislation. What we cannot do is endorse or support a particular party or candidate.)

Public funding for libraries is not historically a partisan issue and voices of support from all ends of the political spectrum have sustained libraries for more than a century. Please reach out to your own federal legislators in opposition to these proposed cuts.

Saint Paul’s legislators are supportive of cultural funding, so your outreach is to affirm these legislators as they fight for continued cultural and library funding. Make three phone calls and share the message below. If you do not reach a staff member, leave a voicemail message. If you can’t get through, try again later.

Senator Al Franken: 202-224-5641
Senator Amy Klobuchar: 202-224-3244
Congresswoman Betty McCollum (District 4 – Saint Paul): 202-225-6631

I know a few of you live outside of Saint Paul. Keith Ellison’s phone number at his Minneapolis office is 612-522-1212. Freshman Congressman Jason Lewis prefers contact in his Washington office at 202-225-2271. Since Rep. Lewis has not yet had the opportunity to vote for or against library funding, it is particularly important that he hear from his constituents in support of library funding.

Your message:

“I support public libraries and oppose President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, NEA, NEH, and the Department of Education. Libraries leverage the tiny amount of federal funds they receive to create an enormous range of services for virtually all Americans.

“Libraries are trusted centers that provide access to technology, job counseling, safe spaces for children, homework support, entrepreneurship, English language literacy, AND also books. Please fight for library funding in the federal budget.”

Thank you for all you do to support the Saint Paul Public Library and libraries nationwide. Call or email me directly with any questions or ideas you’d like to share. If you are able to speak with a Congressional staff member when you make your calls, please report back to me with any insights that are shared.

Beth Burns
President, The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library

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