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Message from Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code

ALA District Dispatch -

Reshma Saujani, the founder and CEO of the national non-profit organization Girls Who Code, has taught computing skills to and inspired more than 10,000 girls across America. At the opening general session of the 2017 ALA Annual Conference this past June, Reshma spoke about Girls Who Code, how they are working to teach 100,000 girls to code by the end of 2018, and the organization’s many intersections with libraries.

Reshma is motivated to make sure that libraries – especially those who are interested in developing coding resources and programs – know about her free resources. As you will read in her message below, she invites ALA members and advocates to join the Girls Who Code movement.

To request a free Girls Who Code Starter Kit, including tips for leaders, giveaways and more, email: schoolandlibrary@us.penguingroup.com

I’m Reshma Saujani, the CEO & Founder of Girls Who Code, the national nonprofit working to close the gender gap in tech.

Computing skills are the most sought-after in the US job market, but girls across the US are being left behind. Today, less than a quarter of computing jobs are held by women, and that number is declining.

First off, I am not a coder. My background is as a lawyer and politician. In 2010, I was the first South Asian-American woman to run for Congress. When I was running for office, I spent a lot of time visiting schools. That’s when I noticed something. In every computer lab, I saw dozens of boys learning to code and training to be tech innovators. But there were barely any girls! This didn’t seem right to me. I did some research and learned that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million open jobs in computing, but fewer than 1 in 5 computer science graduates are women. With women making up almost half of our work force, it’s imperative for our economy that we’re preparing our girls for the future of work.

I decided I was going to teach girls to code and close the gender gap in tech. What started as an experiment with 20 girls in a New York City classroom has grown to a movement of 40,000 middle and high school girls across the states.

In 2017, we’re expanding our movement with the launch of a 13-book series as an invitation for girls everywhere to learn to code and change the world. These books include explanations of computer science concepts using real life examples; relatable characters and profiles of women in tech. It’s one of the first times that the story of computer science has been told through so many girls’ voices. We’re doing this because literary representation matters; one of the best ways to spark girls’ interest is to share stories of girls who look like them. When you teach girls to code, they become change agents and can build apps, programs, and movements to help tackle our country’s toughest problems.

With these books and our Clubs Program, Girls Who Code seeking to teach 100,000 girls to code by the end of 2018. Clubs are free after-school programs for girls to use computer science to impact their community and join our sisterhood of supportive peers and role models. Clubs are led by Facilitators, who can be librarians, teachers, computer scientists, parents or volunteers from any background or field. Many Facilitators have no technical experience and learn to code alongside their Club members.

We hope you’ll join our movement by bringing these books and a Club to your library.

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FCC extends Net Neutrality public comment period to August 30

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On Friday, the FCC announced it would extend the public comment period on its proposal to roll back a 2015 order protecting net neutrality for an additional two weeks. This phase of the process is supposed to allow for “replies” to arguments raised by other commenters.

With close to 20 million comments in the public record so far, any additional time is useful. It’s worth noting, however, that many advocates have called for the FCC to release the consumer complaints received since the 2015 Open Internet Order went into effect and all documents related to the ombudsperson’s interactions with internet users. The comment extension, while welcome, does not address the fact the FCC has yet to make public more than 40,000 net neutrality complaints that could provide direct and relevant evidence in response to numerous questions that the FCC poses in this proceeding.

The extra time means more opportunities for the library community to engage. Even if you have already submitted comments, you can do so again “on reply” Here are a few easy strategies:

  • Submit a comment amplifying the library and higher education principles for an open internet.
  • You can cite to specific examples or arguments in the initial comments submitted by ALA and allies earlier in the proceeding.
  • Thousands of librarians and library staff from across the country have filed comments on their own or via the ALA’s action alert. Members of the library community called on the FCC to keep the current net neutrality rules and shared their worries that the internet with “slow lanes” would hurt libraries and the communities they serve. The comments below offer a few examples and may help with your comments:
    • The New Jersey Library Association submits: “Abandoning net neutrality in favor of an unregulated environment where some content is prioritized over other content removes opportunities for entrepreneurs, students and citizens to learn, grow and participate in their government. It will further enhance the digital divide and severely inhibit the ability of our nation’s libraries to serve those on both sides of that divide.”
    • “If net neutrality is to be abolished, then our critical online services could be restricted to ‘slow lanes’ unless we pay a premium,” wrote John, a public library employee in Georgia. “These include our job and career gateway, language learning software, grant finding, medical information, ebooks, and test preparation guides, such as for the GED and ASVAB. Ending net neutrality would hurt the people who need equal access the most. These people use our career gateway to find jobs, our grant finder to support their businesses and nonprofits, and use our test aids to earn their GED or get into the military. If we were forced to pay a premium to access these resources, it will limit our ability to fund our other programs and services.”
    • Catherine, a reference librarian at a major university in Oregon writes, “I [have] learned that imaginative online searching is an invaluable research tool for personal, professional, and scholarly interests. Yes, going online can be fun, but the internet must not be considered a plaything. Access must not be restricted or limited by corporate packaging.”
    • Hampton, a chief executive officer of a public library system in Maryland, wrote about all the functions and services of the modern library dependent on reliable, unfettered internet access: “In our library, we offer downloadable eBooks, eMagazines, and eAudiobooks as well as numerous databases providing courses through Lynda.com, language learning through Rosetta Stone, 365-days-a-year tutoring for kindergarten through adult with BrainFuse, and many more resources online. We have public computers with internet access as well as free WiFi in our fifteen libraries extending Internet access to thousands of customers who bring their tablets and smartphones to the library. We work with customers to help them in the health care marketplace, with applications for Social Security and jobs, and every conceivable use of the internet. Obviously, being relegated to lower priority internet access would leave our customers in a very difficult position.”
    • Others wrote with concerns about the need for access to information for democracy to thrive, like Carrie, an information professional from Michigan: “The internet is not merely a tool for media consumption, but is also a means of free expression, a resource for education, and most importantly, an implement of democracy. I will not mince words: Allowing corporations to manipulate the flow of information on the internet is not the way forward. An end to net neutrality would hurt businesses large and small, inhibit the free flow of speech online, and allow telecommunications corporations to unjustly interfere with market forces.”

Stay tuned via the District Dispatch and American Libraries blog posts.

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ALA celebrates 10 years of Google Policy Fellows

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ALA celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Google Policy Fellowship Program.

Last Friday, we said goodbye to our 2017 Google Policy Fellow Alisa Holahan. The week before her departure, she and OITP hosted a lunch and discussion for this year’s cohort of Google Policy Fellows.

Similar to the six Policy Fellows lunches we have hosted in the past (in 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011), the gathering was an opportunity for the Fellows to explore the intersection of information technology policy and libraries. Fellows from various policy organizations including the Center for Democracy and Technology, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and Public Knowledge attended to learn more about ALA’s role in shaping technology policy and addressing library needs.

Alan Inouye, Marijke Visser and Carrie Russell shared a brief overview of their roles and the focus at OITP and I represented the intersection between OITP and the OGR. After introductions, the conversation turned to a series of questions: How does the Ready to Code initiative support workforce innovation? How does the Washington Office set priorities? How do we decide our portfolios of work? The informal question-and-answer format generated an interesting exchange around libraries’ roles and interests in technology and innovation.

Most notably, this lunch marked the 10th anniversary of the Google Policy Fellow Program, of which ALA is a founding host organization. Since 2008, we have encouraged master’s and doctoral students in library and information studies with an interest in national public policy to apply and have now amassed a decade of alumni, including:

As the expanding role of libraries of all types evolves, the need for information professionals with Washington experience and savvy will continue to grow. The Washington Office is privileged to have hosted ten early-career professionals and to provide the means for them to obtain direct experience in national policy making.

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Make a nomination for the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service

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The Institute of Museum and Library Services is now accepting nominations for the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service awards. Anyone — an employee, a board member, a member of the public, or an elected official — can nominate an institution. To be considered, the institution must complete and return a nomination form by October 2, 2017.

In 2017, libraries from Iowa, California, South Carolina, Minnesota and Maine were selected to receive this high honor. In 2018, IMLS is particularly interested in libraries with programs that build community cohesion and serve as catalysts for positive community change, including programs that provide services for veterans and military families, at-risk children and families, the un- and under-employed and youth confronting barriers to STEM-related employment.

The ten winning institutions will be honored at a ceremony D.C. and are invited to host a two-day visit from StoryCorps to record community member stories. You can hear some of htese these moving impact stories, dating back to 2009, here.

Institutions interested in being considered should read the nomination form carefully and contact the designated program contacts with questions. The library-specific program contact for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service is Laura McKenzie, who can be reached at (202) 653-4644 or by email at nationalmedals@imls.gov.

As we noted with the annoucement of the National Leadership Grants for Libraries and the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian programs (deadline September 1!), an increase in nominations for the National Medal would send a signal to our Members of Congress that libraries are vital institutions in communities across the country. So, don’t delay — write your nomination today and celebrate the library workers who make our country a better place to live.

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Relationship Priorities from the Forest to the Library

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A post shared by True Rath (@truerathbrarian) on Aug 4, 2017 at 12:34pm PDT I just returned from my annual family vacation in Colorado.  Amidst the forest bathing and a slower daily pace, I always experience a deep dive into relationship building on these trips.  Riding in a compact Fit for the eight hours it … Continue reading Relationship Priorities from the Forest to the Library →

Voting now open! Bring ALA to SxSW

ALA District Dispatch -

For a third year, ALA is planning for Austin’s annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. As in years past, we need your help to bring our programs to the SXSW stage. Public voting counts for 30 percent of SXSW’s decision to pick a panel, so please join us in voting for these two ALA programs.

YALSA Past President Linda Braun and OITP Fellow Mega Subramaniam have partnered with IMLS and Google to offer a workshop called “Ready to Code: Libraries Supporting CS Education.” Here’s the description:

In the last decade, libraries have transformed, from the traditional book provider to become the community anchor where the next generation technology innovations take place. Drawing from initiatives such as the Libraries Ready to Code project and IMLS grants, this session provides perspectives from thought leaders in industry, government, universities, and libraries on the role libraries play in our national CS education ecosystem and work together with communities to support youth success. You can view the video here.

The Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services and the Office for Intellectual Freedom are partnering to offer a worship entitled “Free Speech or Hate Speech?” Here is the quick summary:

The Supreme Court agrees with the rock group, The Slants, that their name is protected under the first amendment. An increase in uses of hate speech in the United States has sparked a new fire in the debate: Is hate speech free speech? Is it a hate crime? The lines can be blurry. We will explore the history of intellectual freedom challenges and how to respond to traumatic interactions involving hate speech that are not seen as “crimes.” See the video here.

As you might remember, in 2016, ALA and Benetech collaborated on a session about leveraging 3D printers to create new learning opportunities for students with disabilities. And, in 2015, OITP partnered with D.C. Public Library and MapStory to present an interactive panel about the ways that libraries foster entrepreneurship and creativity.

Become a registered voter in the Panel Picker process by signing up for an account and get your votes in before Friday, August 25. (Also, be sure to keyword search “library” in the Panelpicker – there are over 30 related programs!)

You will have the opportunity to “Vote Up” or “Vote Down” on all session ideas (votes will be kept private) and add comments to each page. We encourage you to use this commenting feature to show support and even engage with the voting community.

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The Copyright Office belongs in the Library of Congress

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In “Lessons From History: The Copyright Office Belongs in the Library of Congress,” a new report from the American Library Association (ALA), Google Policy Fellow Alisa Holahan compellingly documents that Congress repeatedly has considered the best locus for the U.S. Copyright Office (CO) and consistently reaffirmed that the Library of Congress (Library) is its most effective and efficient home.

The U.S. Copyright Office is located in the James Madison Memorial Building of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Photo credit: The Architect of the Capitol

Prompted by persistent legislative and other proposals to remove the CO from the Library in both the current and most recent Congresses, Holahan’s analysis comprehensively reviews the history of the locus of copyright activities from 1870 to the present day. In addition to providing a longer historical perspective, the Report finds that Congress has examined this issue at roughly 20-year intervals, declining to separate the CO and Library each time.

Notable developments occurred, for example, in the deliberations leading to the Copyright Act of 1976. In particular, there was argument made that the CO performs executive branch functions, and thus its placement in the legislative branch is unconstitutional. The 1976 Act left the U.S. Copyright Office in the Library. Moreover, in 1978, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Eltra Corp. v. Ringer directly addressed this constitutionality question. It found no constitutional problem with the CO’s and Library’s co-location because the Copyright Office operates under the direction of the Librarian of Congress, an appointee of the president.

Holahan also notes another challenge via the Omnibus Patent Act of 1996, which proposed that copyright, patent and trademark activities be consolidated under a single government corporation. This Act was opposed by then-Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters and then-Librarian of Congress James Billington, as well as an array of stakeholders that included the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP); American Society of Journalists and Authors; as well as the library, book publishing and scholarly communities. This legislation was not enacted, thereby leaving the placement of the Copyright Office unchanged.

The neutral question that launched this research was to identify anything of relevance in the historical record regarding the placement of the Copyright Office. ALA recommends Holahan’s research (refer to her full report for additional historical milestones and further details) to anyone contemplating whether the Register of Copyrights should be appointed by the President or whether the Copyright Office should be relocated from the Library.

In a nutshell, these questions have been asked and answered the same way many times already: “it ain’t broke, so don’t fix it.” Holahan’s research and report will inform ALA’s continuing lobbying and policy advocacy on these questions as we work to protect and enhance copyright’s role in promoting the creation and dissemination of knowledge for all.

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IMLS Leadership grants & Laura Bush grants available

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The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently announced the availability of two grant opportunities for libraries through the National Leadership Grants for Libraries (NLG) and the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian (LB21) programs. The deadline to submit grant proposals is September 1, 2017, and awards will be announced in January 2018. NLG and LB21 programs are funded through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) administered by IMLS.

Libraries are encouraged to apply for these funding opportunities. An increase in applications for these programs would send a signal to Congressional appropriators, and the Administration, that these grants are needed in communities across the country. Earlier this year, the President proposed eliminating both grant programs for FY2018, cutting $13.4 million for NLG and $10.0 million for LB21. The House Appropriations Committee rejected the President’s request and in July provided funding for both programs at their FY2017 levels. The full House is expected to vote on the funding bill that includes these programs in September, as is the key Senate Subcommittee and Committee with jurisdiction over both.

The NLG program invests in projects that address challenges and opportunities faced by libraries. Work funded often produces creative and valuable new tools, research findings and models that can be widely used and have national impact. The LB21 program supports “human capital projects” for libraries and librarians. It is intended to help produce a diverse workforce of librarians to better meet the changing learning and information needs of the American public.

IMLS has announced that the next round of NLG and LB21 grants will support three kinds of projects:

  • Community Anchors – projects that advance the role of libraries (and library professionals) as community anchors that foster community partnerships to encourage civic and cultural engagement, community dialogue, lifelong learning, promote digital inclusion and support local economies;
  • National Digital Platform – projects or professionals that create, develop, and expand digital content and services in communities; and
  • Curating Collections – projects or professionals that further preservation and the management of digital library collections.

For more information about the grant guidelines, as well as examples of previously awarded grants, visit IMLS’ NLG or the LB21 pages. IMLS also has posted informational webinars to answer potential applicants’ questions.

Grant requests will be peer-reviewed and must be submitted online by September 1, 2017, with all required documents through grants.gov. In FY2017, approximately 25% of grant requests were funded. The next grant cycle for NLG and LB21 will be announced in December.

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A visit to Senator Tester’s field office

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I moved to Montana three years ago when I accepted a position as director of Montana State University’s School Library Media preparation program. Like any good librarian, the very first thing I did when I moved to Bozeman was obtain my library card. And like any good library advocate, the second thing I did was learn about Montana politics. Montana is an interesting place. It’s incredibly rural (our largest city is Billings, population 110,000). Just over one million people live in the Treasure State, and it takes about ten hours to travel across the state east to west. Accordingly, Montana is represented by our two Senators, Steve Daines and Jon Tester, and one at-large Representative, Greg Gianforte.

Senator Tester
Source: Thom Bridge

Senator Tester is the only working farmer in Congress. He lives in Big Sandy, population 598, where he produces organic wheat, barley, lentils, peas, millet, buckwheat and alfalfa. He butchers his own meat and brings it to Washington in an extra carry-on bag. A former teacher and school board member, he is a staunch advocate for public education. I looked at his background and priorities and found that Senator Tester has a good track record of supporting some of ALA’s key issues, such as open access to government information and the Library Services and Technology Act.

I’ve participated in ALA’s National Library Legislative Day as part of the Montana delegation annually since 2015, so I was familiar with Senator Tester’s Washington, DC-based staff. This summer, with the Senate’s August recess looming, I saw another opportunity to connect with the Senator’s field staff. In Bozeman and the surrounding area, the Senator’s staff regularly schedules outreach and listening sessions in public libraries. On July 27, I attended one of these listening sessions at the Bozeman Public Library. I came prepared with a short list of items that I wanted to cover. Because there were about eight people in the listening session, I wasn’t able to get specific about my issues, so I scheduled a one-on-one appointment the following week with the field office staff in Downtown Bozeman.

I met with Jenna Rhoads, who is a new field officer and a recent graduate of MSU’s political science program. We chatted briefly about people we knew in common and I congratulated her on her new position and recent graduation. I then spoke about several issues, keeping it short, to the point, and being very specific about my “asks.” These issues included:

  1. Congratulating Senator Tester for receiving the Madison Award from the American Library Association and thanking him for his support of the Library Services and Technology Act by signing the Dear Appropriator letter for the FY18 appropriations cycle. I asked that next year, the Senator please consider signing the Dear Appropriator letter on the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program as well.
  2. Thanking the field office for holding listening sessions in local public libraries and encouraging this partnership to continue.
  3. Asking that Senator Tester use his position on the Interior Appropriations subcommittee to assure continued funding for the U.S. Geological Survey when the Interior Appropriations bill is voted on after Labor Day. I provided Jenna with a copy of ALA’s related letter and asked that she pass it along to the appropriate Washington staffer.
  4. Inviting the Senator to continue to work in the long term on school library issues, particularly in rural and tribal schools, which Senator Tester already cares deeply about.

The meeting lasted about 30 minutes. Later that day I followed up with a thank you email, reiterating my issues and “asks.”

As the Senate goes into its traditional August recess, this is a very good time to schedule a meeting with your senator’s field office staff in your local area and perhaps even meet with your senator. I hope that you will take the opportunity to engage with your senators and their field office staff to advocate for important library issues. There are many resources on District Dispatch, the ALA Washington Office blog, that can help you hone in on the issues that are important to your senator. Additionally, the ALA Washington Office’s Office of Government Relations staff are always willing to help you craft your message and give you valuable information about where your senator stands on library issues so you can make your case in the most effective manner.

I chose to take the time to meet with my senator’s field office staff because I believe in the power of civic engagement – and because I know that libraries change lives. I hope that you will take some time to connect with your senator’s field office this August.

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Bi-partisan bill would support library wi-fi

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Earlier this week, the Advancing Innovation and Reinvigorating Widespread Access to Viable Electromagnetic Spectrum (AIRWAVES) Act, S. 1682, was introduced by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH). As described by Sen. Hassan, “The bipartisan AIRWAVES Act will help ensure that

Source: http://www.yourmoney.com

there is an adequate supply of spectrum for licensed and unlicensed use, which in turn will enhance wireless services to our people, stimulate our economy, and spur innovation.” Senator Gardner stated, “This legislation offers innovative ways to avoid a spectrum crunch, pave the way for 5G services, and provide critical resources to rural America.” The legislation would encourage a more efficient use of spectrum, the airwaves over which signals and data travel, while helping to close the urban-rural digital gap.

In a statement on the new bill, ALA President Jim Neal said:

The American Library Association applauds Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) on the introduction of the AIRWAVES Act and supports their efforts to increase the amount of unlicensed spectrum available to power libraries’ Wi-Fi networks. Access to Wi-Fi is important to virtually every patron of the nearly 120,000 school, public and higher education libraries in the United States. More spectrum for library Wi-Fi means more public access to the internet for everyone from school children to entrepreneurs, job seekers and scientists. The AIRWAVES Act will mean that millions more people, especially those in rural areas, will benefit from the library programs and services increasingly essential to their and the nation’s success in the digital age.

Specifically, The AIRWAVES Act would direct the Federal Communications Commission to free up unused or underused spectrum currently assigned to government users for commercial providers to expand their broadband offerings and for the expansion of services like Wi-Fi. The auctioned spectrum would include low-band, mid-band, and high-band frequencies, enabling the deployment of a variety of new wireless technologies. It also includes a proposal to auction other spectrum and would require that 10 percent of the auction proceeds be dedicated to funding wireless infrastructure projects in unserved and underserved rural areas.

Finally, the bill requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on the efficiency of the transfer of federal money from the Spectrum Relocation Fund to better encourage federal agencies to make additional spectrum available.

ALA urges Congress to support the AIRWAVES Act’s creative, bi-partisan approach to spectrum use and rapid action on this important legislation.

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Where’s CopyTalk?

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We are on a summer hiatus! CopyTalk webinars will start up again in September. In the meantime, you can listen to those webinars you missed in the archive!

Brought to you by an enthusiastic ALA committee—OITP Copyright Education Committee—upcoming webinars will address music copyright, copyright tutorials on music, and rights reversion with the Authors Alliance. We would love your suggestions for future topics! Contact Patrick Newell pnewell@csuchico.edu or me crussell@alawash.org with your ideas.

CopyTalks are one hour in duration and scheduled on the first Thursday of every month at 2 pm Eastern (1am Pacific) and of course, are free. The webinar address is always ala.adobeconnect.com/copytalk. Sign in as a guest. You’re in!

Copyright Tools! These are fun!

Our copyright education committee provides fun copyright tools—guides to help you respond to common copyright questions, like “is this a fair use?” Michael Brewer, committee member extraordinaire created these tools that are now in digital form—the 108 Spinner (library reproductions), the public domain slider, the copyright genie (doesn’t she sound cute?), exceptions for instructors and the very popular fair use evaluator, available for download. All tools are available at the Copyright Advisory Network (CAN).

Our most recent tools are the fair use foldy thingys that were a big hit at Annual. You will be enthralled playing with the foldy thingy – see the video! They are available for bulk purchase from the manufacturer.

We also created fair use factor coasters, one coaster for each factor. Collect all four! Each includes a quote from a court case that illuminates the meaning and importance of each factor. Tested for quality, the coasters are functional and work well with cold bottles of beer. Collect yours at a copyright conference in your area!

Talk about service!

Don’t forget to visit the Copyright Advisory Network! Post your copyright question to the question forum and get a quick response from a copyright expert. We don’t provide legal advice but have informed opinions and are willing to share our expertise. Get on the CAN!

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Connecting with your members of Congress

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Guest post by: Eileen M. Palmer, NJLA Public Policy Committee Chairs (July 2016-June 2017)

We’ve all heard it before but it is nonetheless true: effective advocacy is about building relationships. Building strong relationships is more than the occasional call to an elected official’s office requesting support for a bill or funding. Learning who your officials are and understanding their interests and concerns is at the heart of building that relationship and should be ongoing.

Members of the NJ delegation at National Library Legislative Day 2017 with Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-7).

The New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) has worked to develop strong relationships with our congressional delegation through training for advocates provided by our Public Policy Committee, during our annual NJ Library Advocacy Week and at ALA’s National Library Legislative Day. And over the last several months we’ve seen the benefits of relationship building in our work supporting the ALA Washington Office’s advocacy efforts for federal funding.

As 2017 began we learned that the House Committee on Appropriations would be chaired by a representative from New Jersey. Rodney Frelinghuysen represents the 11th district, one rich with libraries and passionate library advocates, from library staff to trustees to mayors. When ALA reached out to us we were ready, willing and able to get to work taking our message to Rep. Frelinghuysen and his staff. Our NJLA Public Policy Committee was the key link in communications between ALA, NJLA and selected advocates from the 11th district. By working together, we were able to develop and execute a plan that has been successful on several fronts. Our plan included:

  • Repeatedly requesting a meeting with the congressman. Though we were unsuccessful in securing a face to face meeting, these communications were critical opportunities to convey our messages on both library funding and access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports, an issue also included in the appropriations legislation.
  • Making sure all local advocates in the 11th district knew our issues and the need to make their own contacts with Rep. Frelinghuysen’s local office. Parsippany Library Director Jayne Beline has had a longstanding relationship with the Congressman and his office, which was invaluable in communicating our message when he was in her library. Building relationships also includes making sure your local congressional office knows if your library has a meeting room they can use for events!
  • Working with local stakeholders – trustees, local officials and even patrons – to convey our message about how federal library funding impacts local library patrons. This message is so much more powerful when delivered locally with local examples.

ALA chapters play an indispensable role in ALA’s advocacy efforts. Coordinating our chapter efforts with the ALA Washington Office has amplified our message and assured each member of our NJ congressional delegation knows, not just how much money we are requesting but, even more importantly, how those funds impact their constituents.

At this point in the legislative process we have reached a significant milestone. The House Committee on Appropriations has passed a bill that holds IMLS, LSTA and IAL funding at current levels and includes a provision to make CRS reports available to all. But we are not close to being done. To move forward, we must work with the Senate to support similar funding as their process begins in earnest this fall. I encourage all chapters to take an active role in working with ALA on these issues. Here are some specific ways to do that:

  • Get friends from inside and outside the library world to sign up for alerts and to act. The ALA Action Center or your local Chapter Action Center makes this very easy.
  • Offer your library for a town hall, tour, summer reading or other program visit by members and/or their staff.
  • Write a brief, personal letter-to-the-editor about the issues we care about. ALA has resources to help you.
  • Ask to meet with your representative and senator (or their staff) over the summer. Don’t be discouraged if you are turned down. Use the opportunity to convey your concern about library funding. Also, ask to be included on the invitation list for any telephone town halls.

Each of these activities can help to build the lasting relationships we need to effectively tell our story to every member of Congress. We’ve seen a very positive impact in New Jersey, not only with the optimistic budget outlook, but also in the further development of our relationship with our legislators and their staff. The benefits of advocacy are well worth the effort of all of us.

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New report explores rural library technology access

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A new report from the Office for Information Technology Policy focuses attention on the capacity of rural public libraries to deploy Internet-enabled computing technologies and other resources to meet the needs of their residents.

Rural Libraries in the United States: Recent Strides, Future Possibilities, and Meeting Community Needs” explores nuances of rurality, details challenges rural libraries face in maximizing their community impacts and describes how existing collaborative regional and statewide efforts help rural libraries and their communities.

Authors Brian Real and Norman Rose combine data from the final Digital Inclusion Survey with Public Libraries Survey data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to find:

  • Sixty percent of rural libraries have a single location as part of their administrative system, hampering economies of scale.
  • Rural libraries furthest from population centers (“rural remote”) are most likely to be single-outlet entities and lag rural counterparts (“rural distant” and “rural fringe”) in most measures of operational capacity.
  • Rural library broadband capacity falls short of benchmarks set for U.S. home access, which is 25 Mbps download and 4 Mbps upload speeds. By contrast, rural fringe libraries average 13/8.6 Mbps, rural distant is 7.7/2.2 Mbps and rural remote is 6.7/1 Mbps.
  • Overall, one in 10 rural libraries report their internet speeds rarely meet patron needs.
  • Rural libraries are on par with colleagues in larger communities in terms of public wi-fi access and providing patrons’ assistance with basic computer and internet training, but more specialized training and resources can lag.
  • More than half of all rural libraries offer programs that help local residents apply for jobs and use job opportunity resources (e.g., online job listings, resume software), and rural libraries are comparable to their peers in providing work space for mobile workers.
  • Significant proportions of all rural libraries (even the most remote) offer programs and services related to employment, entrepreneurship, education, community engagement and health and wellness.
  • The level of programming and services is particularly noteworthy in light of staffing levels: 4.2 median FTE for rural fringe, 2.0 for rural distant and just 1.3 for rural remote libraries.
  • Rural libraries were the least likely to report renovations had taken place in the past five years; about 15 percent, compared with a national average of 21 percent. The Digital Inclusion Survey noted a relationship between facility updates and services and library program offerings.

Finally, the authors consider the roles of state and regional cooperation in adding capacity and resources for rural libraries, looking at examples from Maryland and Iowa.

One-third of all U.S. public libraries serve areas with populations of 2,500 or fewer people, and this new report provides one of the most detailed looks at their services available to date.

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Conscientious Engagement and the Framework for Information Literacy

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In April 2017 an article written by Geographers Carrie Mott and Daniel Cockayne was published in Gender, Place & Culture entitled “Citation matters: mobilizing the politics of citation toward a practice of ‘conscientious engagement’” (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0966369X.2017.1339022?journalCode=cgpc20)  Mott and Cockayne problematized the ways in which certain voices are privileged in scholarly circles. As with many other feminist … Continue reading Conscientious Engagement and the Framework for Information Literacy →

Net neutrality, e-rate hot topics again in Washington

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Telecommunications policy has figured prominently in the Washington Office’s work recently. Most visibly, ALA participated actively with scores of other organizations, companies and trade associations in a nationwide “Day of Action” on July 12 to let the Federal Communications Commission know that we strongly oppose its pending anti-net neutrality proposal and filed initial comments (joined by American Association of Law Libraries and COSLA) with the FCC to that effect. Recently, both the House and Senate held committee hearings at which we anticipated ALA priority issues– most notably net neutrality and potential changes in the E-rate program – being prominently discussed, as they were. We worked with key members of Congress serving on these committees to submit questions and background material ahead of the hearings to be placed in their official records. More on these strategic committee meetings follows:

Senate Holds Nominations Hearings for Three FCC Commissioners

The Senate Commerce committee recently held a hearing on three nominees to the FCC who would fill out the current vacancies at the Commission. Two of those tapped, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and former FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, are well known to the Senate and ALA. The third nominee, Brendan Carr, has not previously served as a Commissioner though he has been an attorney at the Commission since 2012. All three nominees are expected to be confirmed by the Senate.

ALA noted with interest the dialogue surrounding E-rate and net neutrality at the hearing. While all three nominees agreed that E-rate continues to be an important conduit for affordable broadband to libraries and schools, Chairman Pai and nominee Carr declined to commit to maintaining its present funding level or to taking a “hands-off” approach to changing E-rate modernization orders just adopted in 2015 and not yet fully implemented. Rosenworcel, a longtime supporter of the E-rate program, noted that “the future belongs to the connected. No matter who you are or where you live in the country, you need access to modern communication for a fair shot at 21st century success.”

Chairman Pai also declined to commit to any firm position on net neutrality as the Commission has only just begun to reviewing the millions of public comments just submitted on his proposal to effectively reverse current law assuring net neutrality and strongly backed by ALA.

FCC Oversight and Reauthorization at House Subcommittee

The three sitting FCC Commissioners – Chairman Ajit Pai, Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Mike O’Reilly – appeared last week before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. They addressed a range of telecommunications issues with net neutrality figuring especially prominently in the hearing. The Commissioners received numerous questions on the issue from both Republicans and Democrats on the Subcommittee. As noted above, ALA continues to oppose any legislation that would reverse the 2015 FCC Open Internet Order.

At the hearing, full Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) expressed interest in bi-partisan legislation to address net neutrality. Chairman Walden noted that “it’s time for Congress to call a halt on the back-and-forth and set clear net neutrality ground rules for the internet.” There appears, however, to be very little interest among Democratic members in joining the Chairman.

Several senior Subcommittee Democrats criticized the FCC proposed rule to reverse the 2015 Order. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) questioned “Why change the existing regime where everyone agrees that there is an open internet?” Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) criticized Chairman Pai for proceeding on “an agenda that is anti-consumer, anti-small business, anti-competition, anti-innovation, and anti-opportunity.” Also echoing ALA’s position on net neutrality were Senior Democrats Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA).

Congresswoman Eshoo recently hosted a net neutrality roundtable in her California district. Director of Redwood City Public Library Derek Wolfgram joined the panel to discuss the importance of net neutrality for libraries.

The House Subcommittee also questioned the FCC commissioners on a discussion draft of legislation that would reauthorize the Commission. The Republican draft, not yet introduced, would reauthorize the FCC through 2022 and implement procedural changes at the Commission. The FCC was last reauthorized in 1990.

ALA will continue to work with E-rate and net neutrality supporters in the House and Senate over the coming months. Stay tuned as these issues develop.

The post Net neutrality, e-rate hot topics again in Washington appeared first on District Dispatch.

Going to ACRL Immersion 2017: Reflection and more reflection.

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First, I do apologize for the late blog, but I wanted some days to collect my thoughts. A couple of months ago, I found that I had been accepted to the Teacher Track for ACRL Immersion. This program was to take place in Burlington, Vermont. Last Sunday, I arrived and the program concluded last Friday. … Continue reading Going to ACRL Immersion 2017: Reflection and more reflection. →

What’s NAFTA got to do with it?

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Many may not realize that trade treaties can impact copyright law, by not including exceptions that are important for libraries services, research, user access, and fair use. So, when the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) asked for comments before negotiations to re-write the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) get underway, the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) took the opportunity to provide our perspective in a letter. Our message hasn’t changed—Congress put exceptions in the copyright law for a reason, so trade negotiators, don’t mess around with our copyright law, even when interested parties urge you do so.

“The Trading Post” by Clinton Steeds is licensed under CC BY 2.0

During Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations in 2012, LCA was happy to see that balanced copyright was recognized as desirable element of the treaty by including library exceptions in treaty language including fair use:

“Each Party shall endeavor to achieve an appropriate balance in its copyright and related rights system, inter alia by means of limitations or exceptions that are  consistent with Article 18.65 (Limitations and Exceptions), including those for the  digital environment, giving due consideration to legitimate purposes such as, but not limited to: criticism; comment; news reporting; teaching, scholarship, research, and other similar purposes; and facilitating access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled.” (TPP Article 18.66).

The Library Copyright Alliance recommended to NAFTA negotiators that this same language be included in the treaty. In addition, LCA asked that first sale or “exhaustion” be addressed. This is the U.S. exception that allows librarians to lend books, and more broadly allows consumers with lawfully acquired copies of a work the right to distribute that work without authorization. Without exhaustion, there would be no eBay, no Salvation Army collection centers and no second-hand book stores. If included in the treaty, we would advance first sale policy into the international realm which would be interesting because many countries do not have first sale in their respective copyright laws. Of course, that would be a baby step.

LCA also submitted comments on intermediary safe harbors that ensure libraries will not be held liable for the actions of library users. Additionally, LCA addressed copyright term, the public domain, and DRM (digital rights management).

This is just the beginning of a trade negotiation process that will be hidden from the public—unless parts of the treaty are leaked (which often occurs). Only private sector players can negotiate, so it is extremely important to have library concerns that represent the public interest on record. Once the treaty is approved, it will still have to pass in the Senate by two thirds vote. The Senate’s option will be “take it or leave it” because modifications of the treaty cannot be allowed without going back to the drawing board to seek country approval for any modifications. Because the current administration has made trade a priority, we may see a trade treaty negotiated more quickly than usual. LCA will follow its developments.

The post What’s NAFTA got to do with it? appeared first on District Dispatch.

Email privacy protection measures introduced in Senate

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Nearly six months ago, the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 387) was approved overwhelmingly in the House. Now, bipartisan legislation just introduced in the Senate goes further. It fully incorporates and significantly expands the protections laid out in H.R. 387 to comprehensively update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). The “ECPA Modernization Act of 2017” was co-authored by Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT). It will be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on which both serve.

ALA has long been a staunch supporter of comprehensive ECPA reform, which has been proposed but failed to pass in the past several Congresses. President James Neal greeted the milestone introduction with this public statement:

Source: http://www.penchat.net/privacy-policy/

“No freedoms are more vital, and important to librarians, than those of inquiry and speech. Without real privacy, Americans effectively have neither. Current law that allows our government to get and view the full content of our most private electronic communications without a search warrant isn’t just outdated, it’s dangerous in a democracy. ALA strongly supports the bipartisan Lee/Leahy “ECPA Modernization Act” to finally and fully bring the Electronic Communications Privacy Act – and with it our fundamental rights to privacy, inquiry and speech – into the modern era.”

Like the House’s bill, the ECPA Modernization Act will for the first time require a warrant for authorities to access the content of many forms of electronic communications not now protected. It also goes further to impose a similar requirement for “geo-location” information from cell phones. In addition, among other important new measures outlined on Sen. Lee’s website, the bill puts “teeth” in the cell phone location clause by permitting courts to suppress such evidence if acquired in an illegal warrantless search.

No action in the Judiciary Committee is anticipated on the bill before the Senate recesses for its August break. ALA and fellow public and private sector members of the Digital Due Process coalition collectively will be pushing hard in the fall, however, for adoption of this potentially landmark legislation. (You can read many of their statements of support for the bill here.)

As a hedge against this ambitious reform package stalling, supporters also introduced a second bill identical to H.R. 387 as adopted by the House in February. Were the Senate to pass that more limited but still valuable measure, it would move directly to the President’s desk for signature. The broader ECPA Modernization Act, if passed by the Senate, would require further consideration and approval by the House. Its currently broader scope could make that difficult.

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