Please Write to Your Reps
If you live in Massachusetts (the Bay State!) and are a fan of libraries, literacy, the literary life – or all three – it is urgent to alert your state representative and senator that funding for the Massachusetts Center for the Book has been eliminated from the state Senate’s FY17 budget and you need them to support the reinstatement of Line 7000-9508 with the Budget Conference Committee.
Representatives can only throw in their support for a small number of causes during Conference Committee time, so it is important that we library advocates make our voices heard early and often!
Sample Email to State Legislators
This is the basic email that I sent to my state legislators on Friday. Feel free to take and use anything from it (except the personal anecdote, of course, as that might seem odd!) in writing your own quick email or making your own easy phone call of support:
I know you are a strong supporter of library legislation. I’m writing now to ask you to support line item 7000-9508 Massachusetts Center for the Book during the upcoming budget conference negotiations. After 7000-9508 was zeroed out in the House’s FY17 budget proposal, it was put back in by amendment and passed. After it was zeroed out in the Senate budget, there was very little time to advocate for the amendment to put it back into the budget and the amendment failed. A very similar thing happened with the FY16 budget.
7000-9508 For the Massachusetts Center for the Book, Inc., chartered as the Commonwealth Affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress; provided, that the Massachusetts Center for the Book, Inc. shall continue its work as a public-private partnership ……..$200,000
The Massachusetts Center for the Book is the state affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. The Center administers the largest state book awards program in the country. (The announcement of this year’s Massachusetts Book Award finalists is on hold at the moment, due to the need for an all-out advocacy effort related to the FY17 budget.)
The mission of the Massachusetts Center for the Book is to develop, support, and promote cultural programming that will advance the cause of books and reading and enhance the outreach potential of Massachusetts libraries. The Center represents Massachusetts at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. every year, and has just rolled out the only online statewide calendar of cultural and literary events happening in libraries in every region of Massachusetts. Check out the calendar and find out more about the Mass Center for the Book at massbook.org.
The Center also administers one of the largest Letters About Literature awards programs in the country every year, engaging students, grades 4 through 12, in writing letters to authors about a book that was meaningful to them. My first contact with the Center for the Book was when my daughter Molly won an honorable mention for her submission to the Letters About Literature writing contest through the Brockton Public Library and she was invited to the State House for the annual awards presentation with her family, where she also received a citation from Rep. Christine Canavan. The Letters About Literature annual writing contest is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate centers for the book, state libraries and other organizations.
If the Center has to cease planning and collaborations for three months of every year while its staff and board of directors fight for basic funding, its mission is compromised. Your support for 7000-9508 Massachusetts Center for the Book will help persuade the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees that this line item must no longer be skipped over or zeroed out when they create their budget proposals.
How to Contact Your Legislators
What is the Massachusetts Center for the Book?
The Massachusetts Center for the Book, chartered as the Commonwealth Affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is a public-private partnership charged with developing, supporting, and promoting cultural programming that will advance the cause of books and reading and enhance the outreach potential of Massachusetts libraries. (Mission statement taken from the Center’s Web site)
Where Does MassBook Get Its Funding?
The Center (affectionately known as “MassBook” is supported in large part by an appropriation from the General Court of Massachusetts, through budget line 7000-9508, administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. MassBook also receives grants from the following institutions and organizations:
The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation
The Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program
Massachusetts Cultural Council
Simmons College School of Library and Information Science