Legislative Updates

Net Neutrality at the end of 2017: What libraries need to know.

ALA District Dispatch -

Millions of internet users have weighed in — including hundreds of libraries and information professionals — to tell FCC Chairman Ajit Pai not to roll back 2015’s Net Neutrality Order. So what happens now? Flying in the face of this widespread and deep public support for strong net neutrality rules, the FCC has signaled it will gut these protections. Here’s what we expect in coming weeks and months:

  1. FCC Vote: The FCC is expected to be voting at their December meeting, set for December 14 on the adoption of the “Restoring Internet Freedom” rule. The draft language for the vote is expected to be released later today. There likely will be a vote of 3 to 2 (along party lines) to reverse Title II reclassification of the internet. The final order is expected to fully reverse the FCC’s 2015 order.
  2. Release of the Order: The full text of the adopted FCC order will almost certainly not be ready the day of the vote. In 2010, the text of the order (which was subsequently overturned by a federal court) was released two days after it was voted on, and in 2015, the full text was released 14 days after the vote.
  3. Publication in the Federal Register: The order must then be published in the Federal Register and will not go into effect until at least 30 days after publication. This is an important date for proponents of strong net neutrality rules, as its when appeals to the new order can begin.
  4. Legal challenge: There are 60 days to petition for review or appeal the order in the federal court of appeals.

Another front of activity also could play out in Congress. At this point, there are no concrete proposals circulating, and discussion has come mostly from Republican members, with their Democratic colleagues opposed to legislating at this time. Discussions about legislation are likely to ramp up once the FCC’s vote happens.

Throughout, the ALA will continue to work with other supporters of strong net neutrality protections to ensure policymakers know how important a free and open internet is to libraries and the communities we serve. We have fought this fight many times over the past decade, and this will not be the final word on preserving the open and free internet we all need to ensure intellectual freedom and equitable access in the digital age. We will provide analysis of the draft order and additional options for ALA members to raise their voices in support of the Open Internet in the coming weeks.

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CopyTalk: Copyright librarian starter kit

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Join us for the next CopyTalk on Thursday, December 7.

Join us for the next CopyTalk on Thursday, December 7 at 2 p.m. Eastern/11 a.m. Pacific for our hour-long free webinar.

Many librarians are finding themselves in the position of being the local copyright expert. Some of these librarians are professionals who applied for a formal copyright librarian posting. However, other librarians are tasked with taking on copyright, to fill a growing yet unclear need in their organization, while retaining their other job responsibilities.

The purpose of this webinar is to help other incoming copyright librarians know what to expect and to prepare them with a basic knowledge base of user needs to ease into them into their new role. This CopyTalk will provide specific guidance, and include hands-on best practices. A sample of the topics covered are finding collaborators within and beyond the library, how to start building the foundation for an education program, understanding what advocacy looks like and getting a handle on the kinds of questions a Copyright Librarian answers.

Our speaker Emilie Algenio will share what she has learned in her first years of service, in her full-time librarian position as the Copyright/Fair Use Librarian for an American research university.

Emilie Algenio is the Copyright/Fair Use Librarian for the Texas A&M University Libraries, and she focuses on copyright education and outreach. She recently co-presented on their program for graduate students at the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ annual meeting in Poland. She started her career as the Library Resident at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, followed by her position as the Consortia Resources Coordinator for the University of Texas System Libraries. Emilie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Guilford College, has a Masters of Library and Information Science from Simmons College, and is a 2014 graduate of Harvard University’s “CopyrightX.”

Go to ala.adobeconnect.com/copytalk and sign in as a guest.

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House passes OPEN Act to improve public access to government data

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The House of Representatives passed the OPEN Government Data Act on Nov. 15, 2017, as part of the bipartisan Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act.

On Wednesday, November 15, the House of Representatives passed ALA-supported legislation to improve public access to government data. The Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act was included as part of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (H.R. 4174), which the House passed by voice vote. Passage of the bill represents a victory for library advocates, who have supported the legislation since it was first introduced last year.

The OPEN Government Data Act would make more government data freely available online, in machine-readable formats, and discoverable through a federal data catalog. The legislation would codify and build upon then-President Obama’s 2013 executive order. ALA President Jim Neal responded to passage of the bill by saying,

ALA applauds the House’s passage of the OPEN Government Data Act today. This bill will make it easier for libraries to help businesses, researchers and students find and use valuable data that makes American innovation and economic growth possible. The strong bipartisan support for this legislation shows access to information is a value we can all agree on.

With this vote, both the House and the Senate have now passed the OPEN Government Data Act, albeit in different forms. In September, the Senate passed the OPEN bill as an attachment to the annual defense bill, but the provision was later removed in conference with the House. This shows that the Senate supports the fundamental concepts of the OPEN bill – now the question is whether the Senate will agree to the particular details of H.R. 4174 (which also contains new provisions that will require negotiation).

ALA hopes that Congress will soon reach agreement to send the OPEN Government Data Act to the President’s desk so that taxpayers can make better use of these valuable public assets. ALA thanks House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), and Blake Farenthold (R-TX), and Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Ben Sasse (R-NE), for their leadership in unlocking data that will unleash innovation.


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ALA signs trade policy principles

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Today ALA signed the Washington Principles on Copyright Balance in Trade Agreements, joining over 70 international copyright experts, think tanks and public interest groups. The Principles address the need for balanced copyright policy in trade agreements.

Over the years, trade policies have increasingly implicated copyright and other IP laws, sometimes creating international trade policies that conflict with U.S. copyright law by enforcing existing rights holder interests without considering the interests of new industry entrants and user rights to information. U.S. copyright law is exemplary in promoting innovation, creativity and information sector industries—software, computer design, research—because of fair use, safe harbor provisions, and other exceptions and limitations lacking in other countries.

The Principles were developed at a convening of U.S., Canadian and Mexican law professor and policy experts held by American University Washington College of Law’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP). These three countries are currently engaged in NAFTA negotiations

The Washington Principles:
• Protect and promote copyright balance, including fair use
• Provide technology-enabling exceptions, such as for search engines and text- and data-mining
• Require safe harbor provisions to protect online platforms from users’ infringement
• Ensure legitimate exceptions for anti-circumvention, such as documentary filmmaking, cybersecurity research, and allowing assistive reading technologies for the blind
• Adhere to existing multilateral commitments on copyright term
• Guarantee proportionality and due process in copyright enforcement

The Principles are supplemented by “Measuring the Impact of Copyright Balance,” new research from the American University that finds that balanced copyright policies in foreign countries have a positive effect on the information sector industries in terms of net income and total sales and in the local production of creative and scholarly works and other high-quality output. These positive effects, however, do not harm the revenues of traditional content and entertainment industries. This suggests that industry, creativity and research are more likely to thrive under more open user rights policies that allow for experimentation and transformative use.

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Librarians comment on Education Department priorities

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The American Library Association and librarians across the country submitted comments to the Department of Education (ED) in response to its 11 proposed priorities. The priorities, standard for a new administration, are a menu of goals for the ED to use for individual discretionary grant competitions. Over 1,100 individual comments were filed with the ED, including several dozen from the library community. 

ALA noted the important role of public and school libraries in several key priority areas and how librarians help students of all ages. ALA commented on the role of libraries in providing flexible learning environments, addressing STEM needs, promoting literacy, expanding economic opportunity, as well as assisting veterans in achieving their educational goals.

In its letter to the ED, ALA noted:

“Libraries play an instrumental role in advancing formal educational programs as well as informal learning from pre-school through post-secondary education and beyond. Libraries possess relevant information, technology, experts, and community respect and trust to propel education and learning.”

Many librarians responded to ALA’s Action Alert, urging the ED to include libraries in its priorities, reflecting the range of services available at public and school libraries.

Responding to the need for STEM and computer skills development in Priority 6, one Baltimore City library media specialist wrote:

“Computer science is now foundational knowledge every student needs, yet students, particularly students of color and students on free and reduced lunch in urban and rural areas, do not have access to high-quality computer science courses. Females are not participating in equal numbers in the field of computer science or K-12 computer science courses. This is a problem the computer science community can address by giving teachers access to high-quality computer science professional development and schools access to courses focused on serving underserved communities.”

Highlighting the importance of certified librarians at school libraries, one commenter noted that “certified librarians found in school libraries are instructional partners, curriculum developers, and program developers that meet the objectives of their individual school’s improvement plan. School libraries are a foundational support system for all students.”

Echoing these comments, another school library advocate stated: “School libraries and school librarians transform student learning. They help learners to become critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers, and ethical users of information. They empower learners with the skills needed to be college, career, and community ready.”

The comment period has closed, but individual comments will be available on the ED website.

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Creating the NLLD special collection

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This is a guest post from Rosalind Seidel, our fall Special Collections Intern joining us from the University of Maryland (UMD). Rosie has one semester left in her MLIS program at UMD, and hopes to become a rare books and special collections librarian. She graduated from Loyola University New Orleans with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Medieval Studies.

Covers of NLLD participant folders. From top, left to right: “The Card with the Charge” sticker from 1988; “Information Power” button from 1965; “A Word to the Wise” sticker from 1983; “Take time to read” sticker from 1987; “America’s greatest bargain: the library” sticker from 1980.

My first project working in the American Library Association’s Washington Office involved inventorying, processing and creating a finding aid for the wealth of National Library Legislative Day files. Next, this collection will be sent to the ALA Archives where it will be digitized for future access.

Before I began this project, I was unfamiliar with National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) and its purpose. Delving into the files, I quickly learned NLLD is an annual event spanning two days where hundreds of librarians, information professionals and library supporters from across the country come together in Washington, D.C., to meet with their representatives and to advocate for our nation’s libraries.

The files I worked with ranged in date from 1973 to 2016. Such an expanse of years saw quite the development in advocacy for libraries across a 43-year period.Through the files, I got to look at the country and information policy in a whole new light. I began with files from 2016, working my way backward. As I went, it was interesting to see where certain issues arose, and how long they remained focal points. It was surreal, for example, to reach 1994—the year I was born—and see what the ongoing dialogue was, such as “Kids Need Libraries” and “How Stupid Can We Get?”  Surely it is because of the work of library advocates on NLLD that I grew up with the state of libraries and access to information that I did, and I owe them a debt of gratitude. Going forward as a young information professional, it will be my place to do the same.

The reoccurring issues in NLLD’s long history include the Library Services and Construction Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Higher Education Act, the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services, copyright, Title 44, the Library Services and Technology Act, the National Endowment for the Humanities, federal funding for libraries, and access to government information… just to name a few.

What I liked about the NLLD files is that the handouts usually took into account all levels of expertise of NLLD participants which, in turn, made the files an approachable collection. The handouts worked to make all NLLD events, such as lobbying, accessible even to the newest of participants and they also informed and educated participants about the issues on the agenda. I also got to handle letters from various U.S. Presidents in support of National Library Week. From those and other documents, I was able to see how information professionals viewed different administrations and, because of that, when NLLD efforts needed to be strengthened.

Overall, I valued the opportunity I was given to learn more about policy, and those policies I was unaware of that have better informed me about the history and state of librarianship. As my internship continues, I will be given the chance to explore the Washington Office’s history and the work they do even more. My internship has allowed me to interact with libraries, government, the information field, and history in incredible ways that I would never have anticipated. I look forward to what is to come.

NLLD 2018 will take place on May 7 and 8. Registration will open on December 1, 2017. To learn more about participating, visit: ala.org/advocacy/advleg/nlld

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2017 James Partridge Outstanding African American Information Professional Award recipient: my sister

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Guest writer Patricia “Pat” May is the ALA Washington Office Director of Administration

Last week I was honored to attend the presentation of the James Partridge Outstanding African American Information Professional Award – to my sister, Ruby Jaby.

Hampton “Skip” Auld, CEO Anne Arundel County (MD) Public Library;
Partridge Award recipient Ruby Jaby, Branch Manager, Crofton (MD) Community Library;
Catherine Hollerbach, Chief, Public Services and Branch Management, Anne Arundel County (MD) Public Library; Joe Thompson, Citizens for Maryland Libraries; B. Parker Hamilton, former Director of Montgomery County (MD) Public Library.

Awarded annually by the Citizens for Maryland Libraries and the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies, the James Partidge award is given to people who “exemplify the highest ideals of the library/information profession including career-long dedicated service, leadership and a commitment to the empowerment of those whom they serve.” The James Partridge Award was created in 1998 and named for its first recipient. I was not surprised to learn that ALA’s own Satia Marshall Orange, former director of the Office for Library Outreach Services, was a 2001 recipient of this Award.

Growing up, I wouldn’t have guessed that my sister would one day be honored in this way. Ruby was always the seriously creative one of us six siblings. We all thought that she would make music a career (she played and taught piano), and I would be the librarian (I was a book addict before I even knew how to read). However, we both went in different career directions, she into librarianship and I into the Navy before joining the staff of the ALA Washington Office as an office administrator. Clearly, the library profession was the right choice for her.

Ruby has been a librarian for more than 43 years, but it was not until I read the nomination information submitted on her behalf that I realized what award-worthy career accomplishments she’d achieved. After becoming the Branch Manager of the Crofton Public Library in Maryland 25 years ago, Ruby tapped into her deep well of creative customer service ideas. Under her management, the Crofton Public Library branch has become a center for community activity and connections that cater to the needs of its youngest patrons as well as its most senior citizens. Examples of how she and her staff have creatively served their patrons over the years include:

  • Sensory Storytime for children with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities.
    a dedicated Teen Area in the library with furniture, equipment and other resources specifically catering to needs identified by a teen survey.
  • study chairs with arms for patrons who had difficulty getting out of easy chairs and more table space for the increased tutoring needs and for laptop users.
  • a welcoming lobby area that includes snack and beverage vending machines and café tables for patrons who spend long hours at the library and a bench for senior patrons to sit while waiting to be picked up.
  • wildly popular Star Wars events featuring the premier Star Wars costuming group the Old Line Garrison of the 501st Legion, and an annual Harry Potter event.
  • community partnerships that benefit the library with groups such as the Crofton Village Garden Club, the Red Cross and Boy Scouts.

Ruby has been quietly going about her duties in a profession she loves and making her library an invaluable resource to her community. In her own words, she “considers her branch more than a warehouse for books.” She sees it as “a community center for customers to come and relax and spend the whole day there in comfort and enjoyment.” By creative ideas for meeting her patrons’ needs, Ruby is doing more than contribute to the positive image of the library profession. She and her staff are advocating for the right of all people to access information.

Needless to say, our family is very proud of Ruby’s accomplishments and very happy to see her dedication and hard work honored in this meaningful way.

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Archived CopyTalk webinar on students and music sharing available

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By Lotus Head from Johannesburg, South Africa (stock.xchng)

An archived copy of the CopyTalk webinar “Music copyright: what do students know and what do we do about it?” is now available. Originally presented on November 2 by the Office for Information Technology Policy’s Copyright Education Subcommittee, the webinar features Kathleen DeLaurenti, Open Access Editor, Music Library Association Head Librarian, Arthur Friedheim Library at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.

DeLaurenti discusses her research project to identify how college-aged students perceive music copyright. Were they rabid music infringers because they didn’t understand copyright, or did what they understood guide them in a different direction? Of course, the answer is more nuanced than either choice, but the music industry might learn a lesson or two when developing educational copyright promotions and other tools based on this research. DeLaurenti won the Robert L. Oakley Memorial Scholarship in 2015, which in part helped fund her research. As a bonus, DeLaurenti’s project turned to a new direction with students creating YouTube videos that help to explain music copyright to peers. Try them out at your library!

Plan ahead! One hour CopyTalk webinars occur on the first Thursday of every month at 11am Pacific/2 pm Eastern Time. Free!

Our December 7 webinar will feature Emilie Algenio, Copyright/FairUse Librarian at the Texas A&M University. Algenio will discuss her first-year experience after appointment as a copyright librarian. This CopyTalk will be ideal for those librarians just starting their copyright gigs – don’t miss it!

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Open government data legislation advances in Congress

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In recent years, there has been a significant movement to improve public access to government data. Republicans and Democrats alike increasingly recognize that unlocking data can unleash innovation, with major economic and social benefits for businesses, researchers, and the general public. Legislation in support of those goals has been passed in the Senate and is now on a fast track for a floor vote in the House.

The Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act has prospects for passage in this Congress.

The Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act would make more government data freely available online, in machine-readable formats, and discoverable through a federal data catalog. The legislation would codify and build upon then-President Obama’s 2013 executive order. These changes would make it easier for libraries to collect, curate, preserve, and provide services utilizing these valuable data assets.

The legislation was first introduced in 2016 by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX). ALA supported that bill, which was passed in the Senate, but was not taken up in the House.

The Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act was reintroduced this year as S. 760 and H.R. 1770, which ALA again supported. Since then, the bill has been attached to two high-profile pieces of legislation:

  • The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (H.R. 2810). The Senate attached the OPEN Government Data Act to this annual bill authorizing defense activities, which it passed on September 18. However, the House did not include the OPEN Government Data Act in its version of the defense bill. Accordingly, the House and Senate need to reconcile this difference (and many others) before they can send the defense bill to the President. To resolve their different versions of the defense bill, the House and Senate convened a conference committee on Oct. 25, which is aiming to complete its work by Nov. 3 to set up floor votes before Thanksgiving.
  • The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (H.R. 4174 / S. 2046). Both the House and the Senate included the OPEN Government Data Act in this new bill, introduced Oct. 31 by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI); Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Kilmer (D-WA), and Farenthold (R-TX); and Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Schatz (D-HI). The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed OPEN as part of the Foundations bill on Nov. 2, clearing the way for it to be voted on by the full House. The Senate has not yet taken action on this bill.

It remains to be seen which of these pieces of legislation will move, when and with which provisions. But when the Senate has passed and the House Speaker has introduced the same legislation, it suggests widespread agreement and significant prospects for passage in one form or another. ALA hopes that Congress will soon send this important legislation to the President’s desk so that taxpayers can make better use of these important public assets.

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Tell ED to make libraries grant-eligible

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The U.S. Department of Education has asked for public comment on their recently released “Proposed Supplemental Priorities of Discretionary Grant Programs.” Each time the Department of Education (the ED) revisits its priorities is an opportunity for libraries to demonstrate the many ways we provide high-quality education for students of all ages, from early learners to lifelong learners. It is a chance for libraries to have a voice at the national level and influence public policy.

The ED is asking for public comment by Monday, November 13. By using our voices to help the ED set priorities, we can increase the chances libraries are eligible for federal funding that can provide more resources and opportunities to the patrons we serve. ALA will be filing comments and is encouraging librarians across the country to file as well.

The ED’s 11 proposed priorities are a menu of goals for the Department to use for individual discretionary grant competitions. Although the current notice by the ED contains few mentions of libraries, the priorities include several areas where libraries are already making a significant contribution, including:

  • Priority 6: Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education, With a Particular Focus on Computer Science;
  • Priority 7: Promoting Literacy; and
  • Priority 9: Promoting Economic Opportunity.

Does your library promote STEM and computer science education? In what ways does your library foster literacy? Does your library implement programs for career readiness? If you see how your library contributes to these or any of the ED’s 11 proposed priorities, submit a letter by the November 13 deadline. If you send a copy of your comments to us, we will add them to our collection of library stories to share with other advocates and congressional staff.

Encouraging the ED to include additional references to libraries sends a signal to ED agencies and grant-making entities that libraries are fully engaged in meeting the needs of all learners – and that our nation’s libraries have a voice at the highest levels of decision-making.

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Release of Kennedy records is one small step for transparency

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On Oct. 26, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) publicly released thousands of records regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. However, thousands of additional records were withheld from the public pending further review.

Photo by Wknight94

The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act required federal agencies to provide all records related to the assassination to NARA. The law further required all such records to be disclosed to the public within 25 years unless the President certifies it necessary to postpone disclosure. The law was signed on Oct. 26, 1992, which set the 25-year deadline on Oct. 26 of this year.

The legislation was a response to the decades-long delays that often occur before previously-classified information is made available to the public. As then-Sen. John Glenn (D-OH) noted at the time, “Although certain records related to the assassination of President Kennedy have been made available over time to the public, the legislation will create opportunities for the public to review records which might otherwise not be possible for several decades”(142 Cong. Rec. 19499, 1992).

The legislation has resulted in vast amounts of information being made available to the public. According to NARA, the collection “consists of approximately five million pages of records. The vast majority of the collection (88 percent) has been open in full and released to the public since the late 1990s.”ALA recognized the significance of this reform effort by presenting its James Madison Award to the bill’s sponsors and those implementing the law.

As the 25-year deadline approached, only a small percentage of information remained withheld. Perhaps, as the saying goes, nothing focuses the mind like a deadline: On Oct. 4, several members of Congress, led by Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), introduced resolutions calling for the remaining records to be disclosed. On Oct. 21, President Donald Trump tweeted that he would not prevent the disclosure of the remaining records “subject to the receipt of further information.”

Ultimately, though, the deadline would bring only partial disclosure. On Oct. 26, President Trump issued a memorandum, stating:

I am ordering today that the veil finally be lifted. At the same time, executive departments and agencies (agencies) have proposed to me that certain information should continue to be redacted because of national security, law enforcement, and foreign affairs concerns. … To further address these concerns, I am also ordering agencies to re-review each and every one of those redactions over the next 180 days. At the end of that period, I will order the public disclosure of any information that the agencies cannot demonstrate meets the statutory standard for continued postponement of disclosure…

It seems appropriate to recognize this partial release as partial progress for transparency. By the end of President Trump’s additional six-month review period, hopefully further records will be released. If librarians and the public continue to demand transparency, eventually, it may rewrite the history books.

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Apply for the ALA Policy Corps by November 3

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This is a guest post by Christine Lind Hage, director of Rochester Hills (MI) Public Library and a member of the ALA Policy Corps Working Group. She is a past president of the Public Library Association and of United for Libraries. She served on ALA Council for 10 years and is currently a member of the Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) Advisory Committee.

As technology and innovation develops and as the political landscape shifts, we need experts who can clearly articulate the contributions, value and concerns of America’s libraries to policymakers at every level. ALA needs professional librarians who not only understand the impact of federal legislation on libraries and the millions of people they serve, but also who have the depth of knowledge it takes to help shape policies on the front end.

Maine State Librarian Linda Lord at a congressional hearing

To expand ALA’s ability to advocate on key policy issues, ALA President Jim Neal and ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy are working with library leaders from AASL, ACRL, PLA and UFL to create the ALA Policy Corps. Announced earlier this month, the ALA Policy Corps will consist of 10 to 12 advocates who will receive training and opportunities to participate in targeted policy advocacy work primarily at the national level.

Jim Neal himself has modeled our vision for the ALA Policy Corps. He has represented the American library community numerous times in testimony on copyright matters before congressional committees, in the U.S. Copyright Office Section 108 Study Group (2005-2008) and as an advisor to the U.S. delegation at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) meetings on copyright.

ALA member and retired Maine State Librarian Linda Lord is another example of a librarian who has used her expertise and in-depth understanding to help shape federal programs. She has been an effective voice for libraries regarding the E-rate program. Linda’s real-life experience in rural and small libraries was instrumental in getting the E-rate process streamlined and critical additional funding secured. Linda’s advocacy included testifying before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on the importance of E-rate for libraries that serve rural America. Upon her retirement, Senator Angus King (ME) said,”Her leadership at the national level on the E-rate program and other issues has been a huge benefit to Maine.”

Just this month four librarians testified at a hearing of the House Administration Committee about the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). They highlighted the enduring value of the FDLP in ensuring that Americans can access the documents of their government, not just today but in the future. Their real-life experience lent to their own credibility and that of librarianship as a profession in general.

We do not expect all Policy Corps applicants to be seasoned experts at giving congressional testimony. If you have past advocacy experience at any level, a commitment to keeping current on policy-related library issues, and the desire to develop your policy advocacy skills and apply them over a period of years – you should apply to be part of the ALA Policy Corps.

Whether it is the importance of copyright, E-rate, FDLP or federal library funding (to name only a few issues!), it is essential that library professionals share our experiences and provide our expertise to elected leaders and other decision-makers. You can learn more about the ALA Policy Corps and apply at our website, http://www.ala.org/advocacy/ala-policy-corps. The deadline for submitting applications is Friday, November 3.


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Music copyright: what do students know? what do we do about it?

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Join us for CopyTalk on November 2nd with Kathleen DeLaurenti, Open Access Editor, Music Library Association Head Librarian, Arthur Friedheim Library at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. DeLaurenti will give an overview of a research project to identify how college-aged students perceive music copyright and the process of figuring out what to do about it.

Photo credit: trophygeek

DeLaurenti will share the findings of a phenomenological research study examining undergraduate students aimed at uncovering students’ understanding of music copyright. The study provided students an opportunity to share how they understand the phenomenon of music copyright in their lives and how it influences their interactions in the digital and analog world.

While assumptions of ongoing rampant piracy remain the cultural norm, student participants in the study expressed complicated feelings about copyright and a lot of confusion about how to act ethically and legally in an environment of frictionless access to music. The talk will also discuss the follow-up work of a team of librarians and students to co-create open educational resources to introduce high school and college-aged students to the basic concepts of copyright. This discussion should be very revealing!

Tune in on Thursday, November 2 at 2 p.m. Eastern/11 a.m. Pacific time. Go to http://ala.adobeconnect.com/copytalk/ and sign in as a guest. You’re in.

CopyTalks are FREE and brought to you by OITP’s copyright education subcommittee. Archived webinars can be found here.

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Quick history of the Museum and Library Services Act

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Director of the Washington Office Germaine Krettek (far left) and Executive Director of the ALA David Clift (second to left, behind Ms. Krettek) with President Lyndon Johnson (far right) in 1964.

When we talk about saving the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding, we are also talking about the Museum and Library Services Act (MLSA), a piece of legislation with a 53-year long history.

Here’s a quick background:

1964: The 36th U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA), which enabled the federal government to provide direct aid for public libraries. This act and its successors represent the largest federal investment in public libraries.

1996: In its nearly forty-year history, the LSCA underwent numerous reauthorizations until 1996 when it was replaced by the LSTA, enacted within the Museum and Library Services Act (MLSA), the current legislation that authorizes funding for libraries across the nation. The MLSA of 1996 was sponsored by Republican Representative Bill Young from Florida’s 10th congressional district. It established IMLS, which combined the Institute of Museum Services (which had been in existence since 1976) and the Library Programs Office (which had been part of the Department of Education since 1956) and, in 1996, authorized federal funding for IMLS and LSTA through FY 2002.

2003: The 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush signed MLSA into law again. It was sponsored by Republican Representative Peter Hoekstra from Michigan’s 2nd congressional district and authorized federal funding for LSTA through FY 2009.

2010: The 44th U.S. President Barack Obama again renewed MLSA. This time, the legislation was sponsored by Democrat Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island and authorized federal funding for LSTA through FY 2016.

There are seven instances when MSLA was introduced and did not advance in previous Congresses:

2015-2016 (114th Congress) S. 3391 Museum and Library Services Act of 2016Sen. Reed Jack (RI) D

2009-2010 (111th Congress) S. 3984 Museum and Library Services Act of 2010 Sen. Reed Jack (RI) D 2003-2004 (108th Congress) S. 888 Museum and Library Services Act of 2003 Sen. Gregg Judd (NH) R 2003-2004 (108th Congress) S. 238 Museum and Library Services Act of 2003 Sen. Reed Jack (RI) D 2003-2004 (108th Congress) H.R. 13 Museum and Library Services Act of 2003 Rep. Hoekstra Peter (MI-2) R 2001-2002 (107th Congress) S. 2611 Museum and Library Services Act of 2002 Sen. Reed Jack (RI) D 2001-2002 (107th Congress) H.R. 3784 Museum and Library Services Act of 2002 Rep. Hoekstra Peter (MI-2) R

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Congratulations to the 2017 Libraries Ready to Code Cohort

ALA District Dispatch -

This morning ALA and Google announced the new cohort of libraries that will participate in the Phase III of the Libraries Ready to Code initiative. These libraries will work together to design and implement coding programs for young people to promote computer science (CS) and computational thinking among youth.

Libraries in the new Ready to Code cohort will work together to develop a toolkit of coding resources that will be released in April 2018.

This is the first time ALA has dedicated funding for CS programs in libraries. As ALA President Jim Neal put it, this really is a landmark for libraries:

“The Libraries Ready to Code grants are a landmark investment in America’s young people and in our future,” said ALA President Jim Neal. “As centers of innovation in every corner of the country, libraries are the place for youth – especially those underrepresented in tech jobs – to get the CS skills they need to succeed in the information age. These new resources will help cultivate problem-solving skills, in addition to coding, that are at the heart of libraries’ mission to foster critical thinking.”

As noted throughout the Ready to Code project, libraries are filling a crucial opportunity gap for millions of kids, especially those from backgrounds that are underrepresented in CS careers – girls, rural residents, those from low-income communities, young people of color or with disabilities. Fewer than half of U.S. K-12 schools offer computer science classes. Yet even students who are fortunate enough to have such programs at their schools need places outside the classroom to practice coding skills. Libraries are ideal places to provide equitable access to technology and training.

Just as important as the seed money to build CS programs is the guidance the cohort members will receive from each other as a community of practice, along with support from Google and ALA. The community will work together to create a national CS educational toolkit made up of resources and activities that they find most useful for youth CS programming. It will also include an implementation guide to help libraries learn how to use and customize the resources for their unique library/community. Developed by U.S. libraries, for libraries, the toolkit will be released in conjunction with National Library Week in April 2018.

As Google program manager Nicky Rigg put it, this program is “not meant to transform librarians into expert programmers but to support them with the knowledge and skills to do what they do best: empower youth to create, problem solve and develop the confidence and skills to succeed in their future careers.”

The cohort will meet during ALA’s 2018 Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits for a hands-on workshop, where they will share best practices and refine the toolkit.

The Libraries Ready to Code grants are just one part of an ongoing collaboration between OITP and Google. While this cohort of libraries is building their coding programs, a cohort of Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) faculty is building a curriculum to prepare LIS students to facilitate coding programs for young people in their future careers.

More and more libraries are getting Ready to Code, and the future looks promising!

The post Congratulations to the 2017 Libraries Ready to Code Cohort appeared first on District Dispatch.

ALA files E-rate comments with the FCC about C2

ALA District Dispatch -

ALA, along with over 140 libraries and library organizations, submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission on its Public Notice seeking information about the E-rate program category two (C2) budgets yesterday.

ALA’s comments highlight the fact that libraries are assured access to critical funding for internal connections for the first time in many cases in 15 years. This is true whether you are a small rural library in Montana or a large urban library in Pennsylvania. ALA strongly supports the current C2 budget process.

We note, however, that it is premature for the FCC to make comprehensive assumptions about why libraries are not applying for C2, as there are many different reasons why not. We heard from the ALA E-rate Task Force that planning for an equipment upgrade can take a long lead time, which does not correspond to the E-rate application window. Libraries may also be preparing for new construction and holding off on applying until those plans are finalized.

Our comments also raise several issues that should the FCC address them, we think it likely that more libraries can make use of their C2 budget allotment. In brief, these are:

  • The FCC should direct USAC to accept the IMLS square footage data to determine the library budget without further PIA review;
  • Allow applicants to spend their C2 funding over two years; and
  • Review and fund C1 and C2 applications at the same time;
  • While we do not have any indication that the current $2.30 per square foot is insufficient, we do ask the FCC to add another IMLS locale code to the pool of libraries eligible to receive $5 per square foot.

We look forward to working with the FCC as they move forward with determining how to address issues raised in the ALA comments as well as those from more than 140 libraries that also submitted comments.

Of the libraries that filed yesterday, many have submitted personal stories that paint the picture of library users across the country downloading job applications, applying for financial aid, seeking health information, and communicating with family – all dependent on a strong WiFi signal.

For example, the Vigo County Public Library in Terre Haute, IN filed a comment that goes into detail about the library’s mission and the way high-speed internet has impacted the library’s customers:

“Whether looking for a new job, taking classes, connecting with family and friends, or simply downloading a book to read, the service we are able to provide is appreciated by our community. We would not be able to offer the range of programming and other services without the funding provided by Category 2 to upgrade our equipment.”

North Carolina’s Durham County Library’s comment tells the story of a patron who had complained about the Wi-Fi but wrote in again to complement the library on its upgrades. The letter also has a great quote:

“A library without reliable internet access is almost like a library without books.”

Robertson County Public Library, which is the smallest Kentucky county by both population and geographic area, explained the importance of Wi-Fi to her community.

“The nearest college is 25 miles away and many of our patrons use our WiFi for their classwork. There is no industry in our county so a large percentage of people travel out of the county to work. They can be seen using our WiFi in the library parking lot after hours, many nights per week.”

Patrons are also voicing their support. A woman in New York wrote in who relied on Wi-Fi at Bennington Free Library in Vermont while unemployed during the recession.

Hardin County Public Library included a picture of a mother and her baby using the lobby Wi-Fi to check her iPad—I’m going to go out on a limb and say that will be the cutest submission the FCC will receive regarding C2.

We have until November 7 to file reply comments. Commenting at the FCC takes a few steps, but it’s not challenging. Here’s what to do:

  • Format your response as a PDF document (Use letterhead!).
  • Go to https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings
  • For the Proceeding Number, enter the following proceeding numbers: 13-184
  • Complete the rest of the information on the form.
  • Select “REPLY TO COMMENTS” in the drop-down menu under “Type of Filing”
  • Upload your comments at the bottom of the form.

Not sure what to write? Use this template to tell the FCC how your patrons depend on the library to connect to the internet. We encourage you to edit the template to add specifics (like the examples above!) that are important to your library and your community. These stories and examples are critical for the FCC to know about!

The post ALA files E-rate comments with the FCC about C2 appeared first on District Dispatch.

The Copyright Office doesn’t need a small claims court

ALA District Dispatch -

The American Library Association (ALA), through the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), provided cautionary feedback on the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2017 (CASE Act) introduced by Representatives Tom Marino (R-PA 10th) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY 8th). Co-signers to the LCA letter included R Street Institute, the Authors Alliance, and Public Knowledge. The bill calls for the establishment of a small claims court for handling copyright infringement when the rights holders do not have the funds necessary to bring an infringement suit to federal court. For several years, visual artists, including photographers, the Authors Guild, the Copyright Alliance and others have called for an alternative judicial system to resolve copyright disputes, encourage licensing and be cost effective for the stakeholders involved. Small businesses, independent creators and authors do not have the resources to bring infringement suits and end up stymied by infringement they are unable to stop, license, or monetize.

Knox County (Neb.) Courthouse, Photo credit: Wikimedia

Congress asked the U.S. Copyright Office to study the issue and in 2013, after soliciting public comments and convening public roundtables, the Copyright Office published a report recommending that “a centralized tribunal within the Copyright Office” be created as an alternative to federal court. The CASE Act is based on those recommendations.

While the LCA understands “the challenges low-value infringement cases pose to individual artists,” LCA does not believe that the CASE Act would be an effective solution. Because participation in a small claims system would be voluntary, defendants would be unlikely to participate especially without an independent judicial review that is guaranteed in the federal court. LCA also argues that a voluntary claims process is already established in Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A small claims system could be tested before establishing an additional system that people would be unlikely to use.

On budgets and appropriations

ALA District Dispatch -

If anyone thought passing a bill was as easy as a Saturday morning cartoon, one need only look at the budget and appropriations processes in Congress to realize just how complex legislation is in real time. Whether we’re talking about funding for libraries, student loans or other programs, fiscal decision-making is as puzzling as it gets, even to the most seasoned Washington insiders.

The U.S. Senate is slated to take up the 2018 Budget Resolution this week

This week, the U.S. Senate is slated to take up the 2018 Budget Resolution, which provides a target framework for congressional spending. Meanwhile, the FY 2018 appropriations process is on hold until a temporary “continuing resolution” expires on December 8, as reported last month in District Dispatch. So, where does this leave direct library funding?

To understand how library – or any federal funding decisions are made, it is important to differentiate between budgets and appropriations. Appropriations are about the annual optional (discretionary) spending while budget resolutions address mandatory spending (entitlements). Appropriations bills contain the annual decisions made by Congress about how the federal government spends money on such things as Library Services and Technology Act, Innovative Approaches to Literacy, the Library of Congress or the Department of Education – all programs the federal government considers discretionary. Budget bills address mandatory spending such as Medicare and Social Security, which are considered entitlements.

Another important piece of the puzzle is that the budget resolution may contain “reconciliation instructions” directing congressional committees to find cuts in mandatory programs in order to reach spending targets. The House budget passed on October 5 included specific instructions to cut mandatory education spending by $211 billion – which will likely come, in part, from student loans programs such as Pell and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Many library students utilize these popular loan programs and any cuts will likely affect affordability for higher education for some.

The Senate Budget will apparently not contain reconciliation instructions for specific committees, relying on broad targeted cuts. The Senate rules allow for unlimited amendments to its Budget Resolution, but limits debate to 20 hours. Once the 20 hours has expired, the Senate will move to vote on amendments in what is called a vote-a-rama that often goes late into the evening.

After the Senate passes its budget, as is expected, a conference committee will be needed to produce a final version of the budget that both chambers must pass – which may take months. The final reconciliation instructions may target student loan programs that impact library students, and ALA will continue to work to oppose such cuts.


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Keep your Wifi signal strong: defend E-rate

ALA District Dispatch -

We have been anticipating some changes would take place after Chairman Pai took the helm of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC), and wondered about where he might take the E-rate program. During his time as Commissioner, while supportive of the intent and goals of the program, he was less than enthusiastic about many of the program changes as a result of the Modernization.

At the end of September the FCC launched a Public Notice asking for input about Category 2 (C2) funding. Specifically, they want to know whether libraries are using their allotted budgets and if it meets their needs. Since the FCC’s E-rate Modernization in 2014, library applicants have been doing their darndest to receive their share of the $3.9 billion available for libraries and take advantage of the program changes that were put in place. These changes helped libraries increase broadband capacity and improve WiFi access in their buildings.

While we know there are many reasons why libraries do or do not request funding for C2, what we want to make crystal clear to the FCC is that having funds available is critical for libraries, ensuring they can maintain and upgrade their WiFi connectivity. How much are we talking about? In 2016, libraries requested more than $50 million for C2 through the E-rate program.

The deadline to submit comments is October 23, 2017, and we are calling on you to tell the FCC that libraries need secure funding for E-rate.

Here’s how to submit a comment:

  • Format your response as a PDF document. Don’t forget to use your library’s letterhead!
  • Go to https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings
  • For the Proceeding Number, enter the following proceeding numbers: 13-184
  • Complete the rest of the information on the form.
  • Upload your comments at the bottom of the form.

Not sure what to write? Use this template to tell the FCC how your patrons depend on the library to connect to the internet. We encourage you to edit the template to add specifics that are important to your library and your community. Does your library offer special programs that depend in WiFi? Do you know a patron comes in to use your WiFi to look for jobs or have you seen a student doing homework on a tablet? These stories and examples are critical for the FCC to know about!

ALA will be submitting our own comments on October 23 based on input from our E-rate task force who advises the Washington Office on all things E-rate and feedback from the E-rate state coordinators. Your voices will amplify our message to the FCC and illustrate the difference E-rate can make in local communities. We expect further action in the coming weeks and will be calling on libraries to share their stories and step up their support of the E-rate program. There’s more to come.

Read more about ALA’s work on E-rate here.

The post Keep your Wifi signal strong: defend E-rate appeared first on District Dispatch.

ALA files comments to Department of Homeland Security

ALA District Dispatch -

Today, ALA filed comments to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Privacy Office expressing our concerns about the Department’s plans to monitor and collect social media information on all immigrants to the United States.

By way of background, DHS published a new rule under the Privacy Act of 1974 in the Federal Register in late September, detailing how it intends to expand the information it collects when determining a person’s immigration status to include “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results.” As well as immigrants to the United States, the new requirement would impact anyone who communicates with immigrants via social media, as their conversations could be reviewed by immigration officials.

This proposal is in direct opposition to a resolution passed in 2007 about immigrants’ rights and the Library Bill of Rights. As reiterated in our joint comments, existing ALA policies affirm that confidentiality is crucial to freedom of inquiry and that rights of privacy are necessary for intellectual freedom and fundamental to the ethics and practice of librarianship. Protecting user privacy and confidentiality has long been an integral part of the mission of libraries (since 1939!) and ALA strongly supports the protection of each person’s right to privacy and civil liberties, regardless of that individual’s nationality, residency or status.

As information professionals, we are acutely aware that the collection, retention, use, and sharing of social media information can provide a wealth of data that paints a detailed portrait of an individual. If carried out as proposed, DHS’s proposal will chill immigrants’ freedom of expression and freedom of association and plausibly threaten their right to privacy in their intellectual activities and reading habits.

We urge the DHS Privacy Office to fully review and respond to the comments they received about this proposal.

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