Legislative Updates

Who owns culture? An introduction to copyright for undergraduate students

ALA District Dispatch -

We are excited to offer our next CopyTalk webinar about teaching undergraduates about copyright. Sounds like a tall order, but these undergraduates actually choose to take a semester-length copyright course as an elective.

Tammy Ravas will discuss her multidisciplinary approach to teaching copyright, outline the topics taught in the course, give examples of lesson plans, show general progress of students enrolled in the class, and share what worked and what did not.

Ravas is an Associate Professor of the Mansfield Library Faculty at the University of Montana where she serves as the Visual and Performing Arts Librarian. She received her BM in Music Education from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam as well as her MLS and MA in Music History from SUNY at Buffalo as well as Level 1 Certification in Copyright Management and Leadership from the, now defunct, Center for Intellectual Property at the University of Maryland. Professor Ravas has presented papers and taught workshops about copyright at the state, national, and international levels.

This webinar is bound to be popular, so please sign into the Adobe Connect site early on Thursday, March 1 at 2 pm Eastern/11 am Pacific to secure a space. (Registration is capped at 100.)

As always, this webinar is free! Go to ala.adobeconnect.com/copytalk and sign in as a guest.

All of the CopyTalk webinars are archived here. This program is brought to you by the ALA Washington Office’s copyright education subcommittee.

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Archive: “Copyright Librarian Starter Kit” webinar now available

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An archived copy of the CopyTalk webinar “Copyright Librarian Starter Kit” originally webcast on February 1, 2018 is now available. Our speaker Emilie Algenio, Copyright/Fair Use Librarian for the Texas A&M University Libraries, described her method and process for becoming a copyright librarian and provided helpful tips to other incoming copyright librarians on what to know and expect. Emilie shared her knowledge base of user needs and best practices including how to find 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.

From Lotus Head

This was one of our most popular webinars ever so do check it out!.

Mark your calendars! OITP’s Copyright Education Subcommittee sponsors CopyTalk on the first Thursday of every month at 2:00 pm (Eastern)/ 11 am (Pacific).

If you want to suggest topics for CopyTalk webinars, let us know via email (crussell@alawash.org) and use the subject heading “CopyTalk.”

Oh yes! The webinars are free, and we want to keep it that way. We have 100 seat limit but any additional seats are outrageously expensive! If possible, consider watching the webinar with colleagues or joining the webinar before start time. And remember, there is an archive with webinars for the last five years!

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Free webinar: Building Local Communities with Social Media

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Libraries have been serving as community cornerstones for decades. They act as education centers, meeting spaces, and hubs of innovation. Every librarian has dozens of stories about the ways they meet user needs, be it through job skills training, providing support for returning veterans, early literacy programs, or access to e-government services.

But reaching users who aren’t already engaged with the library can be tricky, especially in a world where social media is changing the way users perceive community and communication. It can feel daunting to tackle telling the library story as communication platforms change rapidly.

Next week, join us for a free, half hour webinar about social media marketing and community building. Led by Leslie Datsis of PBS Digital Studios, you’ll learn the basics about audience development, targeting, and how to develop a voice for your channels. And you’ll have a few new tools in your belt as you consider how you can take those stories to the next level and make sure that your users (and your elected officials) know just how important libraries are to the community.

Building Local Communities with Social Media

February 20, 2018, 2:00 – 2:30pm Eastern

How do you use social media to engage with your local audience in addition to informing them? How can you tell your library’s story using Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter? Leslie Datsis from PBS Digital Studios shares best practices that are manageable for a variety of workloads.

To view the webinar, click here. No registration required!

Unable to join us that day? The recording will be available on the ALA YouTube channel immediately following the event.

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White House budget proposal continues to miscalculate the value of libraries

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In its FY2019 budget released today, the White House proposed eliminating the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and hundreds of millions of dollars dedicated to America’s libraries through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The decision echoes the FY 2018 proposal, which also eliminated the grant-making agency and its programs. The administration’s budget also calls for elimination and/or severe cuts to many other federal programs that support libraries, including Innovative Approaches to Literacy, a Department of Education program.

The following statement was made by ALA President Jim Neal:

“The administration’s FY2019 budget is out of touch with the real needs of Americans and the priorities of leaders in Congress who represent them. The president miscalculates the value of more than 120,000 libraries across America, just as he did in his FY2018 budget proposal.

“There is bipartisan support for libraries in Congress, where decision-makers know that to cut funding for libraries is to undercut opportunity for their constituents.

“Thanks to its Grants to States program, IMLS funding provides services that benefit everyone in our communities, including:

  • Veterans in California who receive assistance claiming well-earned benefits to further their education, get medical treatment, start a business and transition to civilian life.
  • Students in Arkansas who prepare for today’s competitive job market by participating in coding classes taught by trained school and public librarians.
  • Entrepreneurs in rural North Carolina who received business development assistance from an IMLS-funded business and technology outreach librarian.
  • Adults in Kansas who take GED courses and use otherwise cost-prohibitive exam preparation tools to advance their education and improve career prospects.

“This administration’s new budget also decreases resources for children. Cutting federal support for programs like Innovative Approaches to Literacy comes at the cost of early literacy and improved student achievement, especially in the most underserved areas of our nation.

“Withholding federal support for libraries means withholding services that foster achievement, develop the workforce and contribute to local economies. ALA members will continue to highlight the value of libraries to our elected leaders in every U.S. congressional district. And we are confident that our congressional leaders will continue to protect the federal programs that invest in our communities.”

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ALA president welcomes FY2018 federal budget agreement, applauds library advocates

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Today Congress passed and the president signed an FY2018 budget deal that will likely include at least level funding for federal library programs at FY2017 levels. Below is the statement of ALA President Jim Neal:

We are pleased that Congress has passed an FY2018 spending agreement that includes an increase in federal funding for domestic priorities, which, we hope, will include library funding. Most of all, we are pleased that Congress rejected the president’s call to eliminate many important programs for libraries, programs that benefit millions of Americans in every corner of our country – students, seniors, children, job seekers, veterans, entrepreneurs and researchers. While this budget agreement is a positive step towards resolving the FY2018 budget, ALA continues to call on Congress to include funding for libraries as it writes the final spending bills in the coming weeks.

One lesson from this long FY2018 appropriations process is that when libraries speak, decision-makers listen. At critical points in the process last year, ALA members from every U.S. congressional district responded to our calls to action. As a result, a record number of representatives and senators signed our annual “Dear Appropriator” letters in the spring. As the House and Senate Appropriations Committees worked on their respective bills last summer, ALA members made more targeted phone calls and visits and leveraged their local media to tell their library stories. Our advocacy earned bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, preserving full funding in the House and even garnering an increase in the Senate.

The persistence of library advocates has paid off for every single community in our nation, from the most populous metropolitan centers to rural areas where the local library offers the only no-fee access to the internet. This is a time to honor the power of our advocacy.

This is also a time to strengthen our resolve. The White House will soon release its FY2019 budget, and we’re expecting even deeper cuts than proposed last year. To protect federal library funding, we need to remind Congress that libraries bring leaders and experts together to solve difficult problems, that we deliver opportunities – from academic success, work-readiness and literacy to housing stability and historical preservation. We need to invite elected leaders into our libraries to see what we do and what we can do for their constituents with a small investment of federal dollars.

The FY2018 budget passage represents a major win for libraries, and that win will fuel even more aggressive efforts to advocate for federal library funding in FY2019. ALA’s Washington Office will continue to provide the expertise, strategy and resources that have helped make our advocacy so effective. For a preview of our new federal advocacy tools, visit: ala.org/fundlibraries

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States Push Back on Net Neutrality

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A new front is emerging in the fight to save net neutrality: states and localities. On December 14, the FCC voted to gut net neutrality protections limiting the power of internet service providers (ISPs) to block, throttle, degrade or assign preference to some online content and services over others, and we predicted potential Congressional action and legal challenges. Less clear at the time was the role state or local policymakers might take.

Now, we are beginning to see some trends emerge:

Legislation
Some state lawmakers have argued that they have an obligation to protect consumers with net neutrality rules and that local governments can approve or deny requests by telecommunications providers to operate in their states. At least 17 states have introduced net neutrality legislation, and more are expected soon. So far, the bills have been falling into three categories:

  1. Some states have passed bills that state a general sense of disapproval or that provide bright-line net neutrality rules for the whole state. A joint Senate resolution in Alaska urges Congress to overturn the FCC order, while a bill in Nebraska seeks rules against blocking, throttling and degrading of internet traffic while also banning paid prioritization of content. These bills may meet with a challenge because of a section of the final order from December, in which the FCC asserts authority to prevent states from pursuing laws inconsistent with the net neutrality repeal.
  2. Other states are introducing measures that would require ISPs to certify they are abiding by net neutrality rules in order to do business with the state, such as the bill in Rhode Island and one in New York State. Last week, Montana’s governor signed the first Executive Order that would achieve the same goal.
  3. And the third category of potential action includes bills or ordinances that would give preference or incentives to ISPs that comply with net neutrality rules for services purchased or used by public entities.

It’s worth noting that bills like those in Nebraska appear most likely to be challenged based on the FCC Order’s language pre-empting state or local net neutrality protections. Legal challenges to those in categories two and three are less clear as they are more in the realm of contract law.

Lawsuits
In addition to legislation, states can take the FCC to court. Twenty-two states have signed on to a lawsuit led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who had encouraged the FCC to delay their vote after discovering that 2 million identities may have been stolen for fake comments submitted during the FCC’s public comment period. When the FCC refused to cooperate, a multistate lawsuit was filed on the grounds that the public comment process was corrupted.

Other Opportunities
Local governments also have power over ISPs due to access and rights of way they are granted. When it comes time to negotiate a new agreement, the city or state generally contracts an independent third-party evaluator to do a needs assessment. That report can serve as a starting point for the city to negotiate. From there, the city or states can require the company to commit to their requests. Some policymakers have suggested making net neutrality conditions part of this process.

What’s next?
We will track these activities and keep ALA members informed about local and state actions as they come up. In the meanwhile, library advocates can:

  1. Stay informed via District Dispatch
  2. Sign up for alerts from ALA so we can reach you quickly when direct action is needed. Right now, you can email your members of Congress and ask them to use a Joint Resolution of Disapproval under the CRA to repeal the recent FCC action and restore the 2015 Open Internet Order protections.

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YX librarians at MidWinter 2018: Confidence and facilitation is key for youth tech programs

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Shannon Lake, Tori Ogawa, and Heather Thompson are a few of the outstanding and innovative librarians who are part of the inaugural cohort of YX Librarians, a post-graduate certificate program offered by the University of Maryland. Alongside one of their instructors, Dr. Mega Subramaniam, these front-line librarians will discuss implementing new technology programs for and with today’s youth. In their presentation, they will discuss the importance of building confidence when executing tech-infused programs and incorporating youth voice into planning and implementation processes. 

YX Librarians present Confidence and Facilitation is Key: Infusing Technology into Youth Programs on Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 10:30 a.m.

The YX Librarians will share ways to run tech-infused programs and address how reaching out to the youth and community can make this possible, even when individuals aren’t technology experts. Attendees of this presentation will learn about a replicable program that integrates unplugged and high tech activities to teach youth how to code in HTML, CSS, and Javascript. They will additionally learn K-5 activities that teach the fundamentals of coding without the use of computers, as well as how to blend high and low tech into one program with Sphero robots. Attendees of Confidence and Facilitation is Key will walk away with a toolkit of ideas and examples to facilitate rich youth technology programs at their own libraries.

Come see the YX Librarians present Confidence and Facilitation is Key: Infusing Technology into Youth Programs on Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 10:30 a.m. in the Colorado Convention Center, Rm 104.

Interested in becoming part of the next cohort of YX librarians? This online post-masters certificate gives youth service librarians and school librarians the skills they need to integrate the latest research on learning, technology, community partnerships, and design thinking into their practice with youth ages 0-18. Applications are being accepted through February 28th, 2018. More information can be found at: https://yx.umd.edu/

About the Presenters:

Shannon Lake is the Teen Educator/Librarian at Providence Public Library.

Tori Ogawa is a Children’s Librarian and the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Fellow at Darien Library.

Heather Thompson is the Youth Services Programming Librarian at the Kenosha Public Library and co-creator of the blog www.steminlibraries.com.

Mega Subramaniam is an Associate Professor in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland.

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Computing in libraries: Funding open for AspireIT summer program

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This is a guest post from Jennifer Manning, Program Director of AspireIT Partnerships at the National Center for Women & Information Technology, which works with the ALA Washington Office’s Libraries Ready to Code initiative and NCWIT AspireIT to connect young women program leaders to public libraries to design and implement coding programs for K-12 girls in an exciting pilot project.

If you missed the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) “Overview for AspireIT Partner Organization” webinar, never fear! There’s another chance to find out everything you need to make sure your library can participate during the 2018 summer round:

The ALA Washington Office’s Libraries Ready to Code initiative and NCWIT AspireIT are partners in connecting young women program leaders to public libraries to design and implement coding programs for K-12 girls in an exciting pilot project.

We’re holding a second webinar on Friday, February 16 at 1:00 (ET). Join us via Zoom for a Q&A session with more information on being an AspireIT Partner organization.

NCWIT has a wide network of young women leaders who are looking for a partner organization to help them host a computer science program and inspire more young people to give coding a try. At NCWIT we’re excited to work with local libraries and hope to see more join with us this year.

If you can’t attend the webinar, you can find the recording and slide deck from ythe webinar online as well as some other direct links to get you started in finding a leader for your library. These links are also available through AspireIT.
Check out the application tools:

Express interest in the summer program:
Fill out this form, or look here to see if you are already listed.

Apply for alliance membership:
All partner organizations must be members of an NCWIT alliance. It is free to become a member. K-12 Organizations: Apply for the K-12 Associate Alliance here.

If you have any additional questions – or want to be sure to receive information about next year’s Aspirations in Computing Award – email us at AspireIT@ncwit.org.

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Status of the Current Federal Budget(s): FY2018+

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Over the next few weeks, the White House is expected to release its FY2019 budget request to Congress. We expect the budget to include draconian cuts to library, education and other non-defense discretionary spending. In fact, we believe the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is likely to be proposed to be eliminated outright.

The White House’s FY2019 budget is expected to propose even worse cuts than his previous proposal.

But wait, doesn’t Congress still have to finish a budget and spending bill for FY2018? Does this mean that Congress may need to negotiate two different spending bills at the same time?

The short answer is, yes.

As you may recall, early last year the administration’s FY2018 budget proposed steep cuts, including the complete elimination of the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) which includes programs funded by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program.

As a result of ALA’s grassroots mobilization and advocacy, many of these proposed cuts were rejected by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and major ALA funding priorities have remained in the clear. In fact, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to increase IMLS funding by $4 million over FY2017 levels in its funding bill.

Since then, Congress has been unable to reconcile their respective funding bills and has instead passed a series of “continuing resolutions” or CRs which temporarily fund the government for short periods of time at current FY2017 levels. Partisan divisions over policy issues have also delayed an agreement on a final FY2017 funding agreement. Among the issues hampering negotiations include Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a border wall with Mexico, Children’s Health Insurance Program and disaster relief.

This week Congress will face its fourth consecutive CR deadline and there are rumblings of yet another CR to fund the government through the end of March. During this time, it is possible that the president’s FY2019 budget will be introduced before we see a budget deal and a full spending package for FY2018. This will make an already confusing funding situation even more so.

So, why is this important and what does this mean for library funding?

The budget and appropriations timeline and process is messy and confusing. Since we are already four months into FY2018, Congress will be in the position to have to begin considering an FY2019 budget as it is still trying to finalize its FY2018 budget and spending.

Library funding for FY2018 is not yet set in stone and discussions on an FY2018 budget deal and spending package can have direct implications for these programs. If a budget deal includes higher budget caps, which then could result in Appropriators having more money to allocate to federal programs, it is possible that we could see an increase in funding for ALA priority programs.

Additionally, the President’s FY2019 budget is expected to propose even worse cuts than his previous proposal.

But it is important to remember: these cuts are only suggestions by the Trump Administration. Only Congress has the delegated Constitutional “power of the purse” meaning that decisions on specific items like these are ultimately up to Congress.

The Library community must stay engaged and ensure that our members of Congress hear from us on the importance of library funding. Despite the never-ending confusion of the budget process, the battle for library funding continues. Stay tuned to District Dispatch for updates as the budget process unfolds – for both FY2018 and FY2019.

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Pending bills would improve access to information

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This post originally appears in the February 2018 issue of College & Research Libraries News.

Academic libraries are on the front lines of innovation and job creation, supporting education for tomorrow’s workforce and research that will create new technologies. By advocating for improved access to information, libraries can support those missions. Several bills pending in Congress would improve the public’s access to research and data produced with public funding. If enacted, these bills would expand the information resources that academic libraries could offer to their faculty and students.

OPEN Government Data Act
The OPEN Government Data Act would improve public access to valuable government data. The bill would direct federal agencies to make more of their data freely available online, in machine-readable formats, and discoverable through a data catalog. These changes would make it easier for libraries to collect, curate, preserve, and provide services utilizing government data assets.

ALA has supported the OPEN Act since it was first introduced in 2016. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the bill in late 2017, albeit in different formats. Both chambers have to pass the bill in identical form in order to send it to the president’s desk. Advocates hope that Congress will soon do so, perhaps as part of the delayed deal for the fiscal year 2018 budget.

Congressional Research Service reports
Congress is similarly poised to provide public access to reports by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). CRS is a federal agency, housed within the Library of Congress, that prepares public policy research for members of Congress, including nonconfidential reports about a range of policy topics. These reports have not been routinely published, but both houses of Congress have recently taken steps to change this. As part of the current budget process, both House and Senate appropriators approved language to provide free, online public access to CRS reports. Both houses will need to reconcile their approaches and include a public access requirement for CRS when Congress passes a final budget. Such a provision would enable libraries to provide their users with free, authentic copies of these useful public policy reports. ALA has long advocated for public access to CRS reports, dating back to a Council resolution adopted in 1998.

Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act
The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act, or FASTR, would ensure that, when taxpayers fund scientific research, they are able to freely access the results of that research. FASTR would build on a 2008 law that required the scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health to upload their research into the agency’s free public repository. FASTR would expand that policy to all federal agencies that fund significant amounts of research. The bill was introduced in both the House and the Senate in 2017, and is pending committee consideration in both houses.

For updates on the status of these bills and issues related to government information, follow the Washington Office blog DistrictDispatch.org.

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Celebrating transformative effects of E-rate

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This is a guest post from Katherine Dean, our spring intern joining us from The Catholic University of America’s library and information science department. Katherine has 3 semesters left in her MLIS program and has been focusing her studies on cultural heritage information management and equitable access to information. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in Religious Studies.

Last week marked the 20 year anniversary of the implementation of the E-rate program. To mark the occasion, ALA joined several other organizations on the Hill to celebrate the program’s success, and consider its future.

As institutions that have undergone significant change throughout the years, particularly in information technologies, libraries are leading the charge in the fight for equitable access to information. – Larry Irving, President and CEO of the Irving Group

The program began with remarks from Senators Edward J. Markey and John D. Rockefeller, IV, who returned to the Hill for the occasion, his first time back on the Hill since he left office. Rockefeller recalled some of the resistance the program encountered at the beginning, but both he and Markey agreed that, in the end, passing E-rate was a bipartisan effort. As Markey pointed out in his remarks, children are 20% of the population and 100% of the future, a fact no lawmaker could ignore.

Evan Marwell, founder and CEO of EducationSuperHighway, provided an overview of the program’s progress and improvements due to the 2014 modernization. Most significantly, the program’s funding increased from $1.4billion to $3.9billion, with $1billion dedicated to providing reliable Wi-Fi. While his presentation emphasized the transformative impact of E-rate, he noted areas where the program can still make a critical difference, such as the 6.5 million students still lacking internet access.

Perhaps the highlight of the summit was the panel, providing those in attendance with first-hand accounts of the programs and technologies libraries and schools have been able to provide thanks to E-rate funding. The diverse panel included: Lauren Abner of the Kentucky Dept. for Libraries and Archives; Adam Dubitsky, Director of Policy in the office of the governor, Maryland; Larry Irving, President and CEO of the Irving Group; Dale McDonald of the National Catholic Education Association; and Lenny Schad, of the Houston, Texas Independent School District.

All panel members emphasized the transformative effects of E-rate on their state or institution. McDonald noted that the “E” in E-rate stood for equal, that the program served as an equalizer between students of varied economic statuses and schools with different amounts of funding.

Schad provided an example from his school district in Houston explaining that E-rate not only provided a discount on internet and broadband access but also allowed schools to reallocate money saved to provide new technology for the students. Abner described a program in a Kentucky library made possible by E-rate. With the money saved by the program, a library was able to purchase hotspot devices to loan out to families and individuals. The future of E-rate had all panel members agree that more technologies, such as the hotspot devices, ought to be considered by the program, and that the application process ought to be streamlined.

Before the panel ended Irving explained that the most important institutions involved in E-rate were easily the libraries. As institutions that have undergone significant change throughout the years, particularly in information technologies, libraries are leading the charge in the fight for equitable access to information. He said that libraries were essential participants in E-rate as the program allows them to serve students who lack home internet connections and computers, further bridging the homework-gap.

Lastly, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel gave remarks about the future of E-rate. The main priority now, she said, was not only to provide affordable internet access to libraries and schools but to ensure that those connections are high-speed broadband connections.

Overall the summit was an exciting introduction to the collaboration between policy makers, education coalitions, FCC commissioners, and ALA. I am already looking forward to my next hearing!

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CopyTalk: copyright librarian starter kit

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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.”

Thursday, February 1st at 2pm Eastern/11am Pacific for our hour-long free webinar. Go to ala.adobeconnect.com/copytalk and sign in as a guest.

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NCWIT AspireIT funding open for summer

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This is a guest post from Jennifer Manning, Program Director of AspireIT Partnerships at the National Center for Women & Information Technology. The ALA Washington Office’s Libraries Ready to Code initiative and NCWIT AspireIT are partners in connecting young women program leaders to public libraries to design and implement coding programs for K-12 girls in an exciting pilot project.

Girls and women in the U.S. are avid users of technology, but they are significantly underrepresented in its creation. NCWIT AspireIT can help libraries inspire more girls to become technology innovators.

AspireIT connects high school and college-aged members of our Aspirations in Computing community with K-12 girls interested in computing. Using a near-peer model, AspireIT Leaders teach younger girls fundamentals in programming and computational thinking in fun creative environments that are supported by Partner Organizations from the NCWIT community. The relationship between the AspireIT Leaders and their AspireIT Partner Organizations fosters mentoring with technical professionals, increases young women’s confidence in their computing abilities, and develops valuable leadership skills.

To date, NCWIT has gifted more than $800,000 to 300 programs, providing an estimated 240,000 instruction hours to nearly 8,000 girls in 40 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands since 2013. since 2013. AspireIT aims to engage more than 10,000 girls by 2018.

The AspireIT Partner Organization role connects you with AspireIT Leaders from our Aspirations in Computing community to share their passion by facilitating K-12 computing education in your local community, inspire future innovators, and give back. Not to mention – we will provide non-profit organizations with up to $3,000 in support to run these programs! Visit our AspireIT Toolkit to view the current RFP and application.

We are in the process of opening our next round of AspireIT funding, for programs occurring between June 15, 2018, and October 14, 2018. Matching is open now, applications will officially open on February 1, 2018, and are due on March 11, 2018. Please fill out a new interest request so that potential AspireIT Leaders can connect with you.

Questions?

  • Join us via Zoom on Monday, February 5, 2018, at 3pmET for a Q&A session for more information on being an AspireIT Partner organization.
  • If you missed the “Overview for AspireIT Partner Organization” Webinar on January 18 and would like to know what it means to be a Partner Organization, review these Slides and the webinar recording.
  • Email the team: AspireIT@ncwit.org

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Advocating for libraries: Tips for talking to legislators

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The FY 2019 federal budget proposal will be released in the coming weeks: what’s your strategy to help #FundLibrariesYear-round advocate and Idaho State Librarian Ann Joslin offers valuable tips for effectively engaging your members of Congress.   

Few legislators will go on record saying they don’t like libraries, so enlisting legislative support should be simple, right? But engaging with elected officials doesn’t always equate to consistent support for libraries and library issues. With members of Congress heading back to their districts soon for the holiday break, what are the most effective ways to talk with them about libraries?

Idaho State Librarian Ann Joslin first got to know Representative Mike Moyle by sharing an Idaho book with him in the rotunda of the state capitol building. Rep. Moyle is now the House Majority Leader.
Photo credit: Idaho Commission for Libraries

I have been Idaho’s state librarian since 2005 and held several positions in the state library agency for 26 years before that. The Idaho Commission for Libraries—the state’s library development agency—relies on a mixture of state and federal funding to execute its mission of assisting the more than 850 public, school, academic, and special libraries in Idaho. And with Idaho libraries being as varied as the state’s landscape in terms of size, remoteness, and relevance in their community, creating effective statewide library programs and services remains challenging.

Speaking to Idaho’s legislators was not easy or comfortable at first, but through repetition and years of practice, I’ve learned some things that have increased my effectiveness:

  • Don’t overestimate what legislators know (or understand) about your cause. Be ready to educate them each legislative session, and do so in engaging ways. Legislators are busy people who get a lot of information thrown at them, often about unfamiliar subjects and issues. Make it simple for legislators to absorb—and remember—your library’s story and why it’s important to their constituents and your state. For example, we have created eye-catching brochures and infographics that clearly illustrate facts, statistics, and issues in a way that is easy to understand and retain. And these materials can be customized with data about a legislator’s district or a particular part of the state.
  • Research your legislators. Focus your efforts on senators and representatives whose stated goals and interests align the best with the library mission. For example, one of our agency’s strategic goals concerns workforce development, which is also a stated priority for one of our key legislators. In our correspondence with this legislator, we demonstrate specific library and agency programs, services, and assistance that the community uses to spur workforce and economic development. We also include a success story that highlights the issue and the effect the agency and library have on the topic and the community. The story personalizes the subject and makes it more relevant and memorable. And we customize a version of a brochure or infographic to reinforce the topic.
  • Tailor your message. Find out what messages might resonate with the people who have control over the purse strings and tailor a pitch to each one. This can go a long way toward securing the funding you’re looking for. And be prepared to share that targeted message—anywhere. If you unexpectedly encounter a legislator—maybe in line at your favorite coffee place—introduce yourself and bring up the library.

In Idaho, we are working to get the library message out in new and different ways, such as through direct, consistent follow-up with each of our senators and representatives throughout the year. In addition, we conduct personalized outreach to them arising from specific opportunities, like media coverage of a member of Congress reading to school children.

We are also helping a group of library directors to be more effective spokespeople in a variety of settings, from speaking in front of the Rotary Club to doing a live TV interview. In our next training session, we plan to include library staff members, because one thing we learned is that the director is not always the best choice to represent the library. A young staff member who is passionate about social media might be the right person to handle those duties—as long as clear guidelines, responsibilities, and expectations have been established in advance.

Advocacy, engagement, outreach, public relations, and good, old-fashioned schmoozing are all components of disseminating the library message to the appropriate audience. And they are ongoing and ever-changing. So be persistent in your efforts and unafraid to alter your course. Don’t let the “because we’ll never get his or her support” mentality limit your future achievements.

Ann Joslin is the Idaho State Librarian. This post first appeared in American Libraries’ blog The Scoop

If you haven’t already, register here for National Library Legislative Day 2018 (May 7-8) – you can come to Washington or participate from home!

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FCC finds broadband speed standards sufficient

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Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) put out a fact sheet on their (almost) yearly report on broadband: how it is being deployed and what policymakers consider to be the speeds and what characteristics the FCC will use to determine how it is being deployed. The report keeps some crucial standards in place the ALA had been tracking.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had previously suggested that the commission’s current standard for home broadband of 25 Mbps up and 3 Mbps down, defined under a previous FCC chairman, was perhaps unnecessarily high. The Chairman suggested that the emergence of mobile services, combined with traditional wireline broadband, provides sufficient connections for people. So he had proposed a combined fixed and mobile broadband standard of 10 Mbps up and 1 Mbps down. ALA, several members of Congress and other advocates were concerned, and as we noted in our comments to the FCC: rather than ensuring commercial ISPs are meeting consumers’ needs and holding carriers accountable to existing standards, the FCC may just be choosing to “make the test easier” for those providers.

In the end, the FCC’s report keeps the definition of broadband at 25 Mbps up and 3 Mbps down and opted to continue to evaluate mobile and fixed services separately. The report also says that the FCC should consider what broadband access means “holistically,” though the fact sheet released provides little indication of what that means. On the one hand, the fact sheet indicates that broadband is being deployed in a “reasonable and timely manner” (a departure from the previous FCC). But two days earlier, Chairman Pai proposed an order to give small carriers over $500 million to deploy broadband in rural areas, indicating that, at least in these areas, broadband is not being deployed in a timely enough fashion.

This is a dynamic we will be following closely. As a policy matter, it seems the majority at the FCC would like to continue pushing for deregulation as the fact sheet argues that the reason broadband is now being deployed in a timely fashion is because of certain deregulatory actions of this FCC. But when funds are made available to support broadband, it seems the FCC’s preference is to focus on rural areas.

We look forward to the release of the full report to address additional issues In our comments. we asked the FCC to maintain the benchmarks for broadband to libraries set in 2014 as part of the modernization of the E-rate program: for libraries serving less than 50,000 population the FCC recommended a minimum broadband speed of 100 Mbps; for libraries serving more than 50,000 population it recommended a speed of at least 1 Gbps. We also hope the FCC will work with us to find other metrics that might help our shared policy goals of ensuring well-connected anchor institutions.

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Mother Teresa and Margaret Sanger do not mix

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The American Library Association gets hundreds of calls a year from libraries tackling book challenges and other forms of censorship. Heck, we even celebrate with banned book week. Our Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) takes these calls and advises librarians on their options.

One library director in the small town of Trumbull in Connecticut called OIF when people objected to a painting on display at the Trumbull Public Library. It was part of a series of works by Robin Morris called the Great Minds Collection. Richard Resnick, a citizen of Trumbull commissioned the works and gave the collection of 33 artworks to the library to exhibit.

One painting—Onward We March—in the collection depicts several famous women at a rally. Mother Teresa is there, representing the Mission of Charity along with Gloria Steinem, Clara Barton, Susan B. Anthony and others including Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.

The citizen complained about the juxtaposition of Mother Teresa and Margaret Sanger. Their argument was the Mother Teresa would never march with the likes of Sanger. It was offensive. The Missionaries of Charity, an organization founded by Mother Teresa, said the painting had to be removed because they had intellectual property rights of the image of Saint Teresa. The Library Board of Trustees who stood firm and maintained the painting remain. They noted the library’s support of free expression and diversity of opinion. They also noted that a copyright infringement claim seemed dubious. Was this just an excuse for removing the painting?

Enter the attorneys, religious leaders, ACLU and First Selectman Tim Herbst who represents the district in the state legislature. Herbst, with political ambitions, struggled with a decision he thought was his to make. (The Library Board of Trustees thought it was their decision). Despite the bogus copyright claims, the story about potential liability for the city was a convenient excuse to remove the painting from the library.

Against the decision by the Library Board of Trustees to keep the painting on display, Herbst removed the painting from the exhibit saying: “After learning that the Trumbull Library Board did not have the properly written indemnification for the display of privately owned artwork in the town’s library, and also being alerted to allegations of copyright infringement and unlawful use of Mother Teresa’s image, upon the advice of legal counsel, I can see no other respectful and responsible alternative than to temporarily suspend the display until the proper agreements and legal assurances.”

Less than a week later, the painting was back up after Richard Resnick, against the advice of his attorney, signed a document that he would take responsibility if the library or city was sued.

Herbst announced his decision to replace the painting at a town library meeting. While giving his remarks, there was a loud commotion in the library room next door. When people ran to look at what was happening, they saw a woman defaced the painting, using a back marker to cross out the face of Margaret Sanger. The woman fled the scene. Police were called and people were questioned, but the culprit was never found. Those at the meeting agreed, that in spite of their differences of opinion, none of them wanted the painting vandalized.

Since then, the library has tried to put the situation behind them. The Great Minds Collection is still being exhibited alongside the Onward We March painting restored. Robin Morris’s art has gained widespread recognition in popularity. Images of her work on cups, posters, shirts and shopping bags are now available.

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Bridging the Spectrum symposium at CUA/LIS highlights public policy directions in Washington

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On Friday, February 2, The Catholic University of America (CUA) Library and Information Sciences Department will host its Tenth Annual Bridging the Spectrum: A Symposium on Scholarship and Practice in Library and Information Science (LIS). A one-day event, Bridging the Spectrum provides attendees with a knowledge-sharing forum and meeting place for practitioners, students, and faculty in Library and Information Sciences and Services to share work and to foster unexpected connections across the spectrum of the information professions.

Dr. Alan Inouye will be the keynote speaker at CUA’s 10th annual Bridging the Spectrum symposium on February 2, 2018.

The keynote address this year will be given by American Library Association Washington Office Director Dr. Alan Inouye. In Making Sense of the Headlines: Advancing Public Policy for the LIS Community, Dr. Inouye looks at the interplay between forming national policy on LIS issues such as net neutrality, federal funding for libraries and education policy with larger trends in government, technology, commerce and society, asking, “What is the more fundamental change taking place? What is really happening beneath the surface and over time—policy-wise? And how can the library and information science community best influence policy and move our interests higher on the political agenda—or at least defend ourselves as much as possible?”

This year, Bridging the Spectrum continues this tradition with a varied program that covers and discusses a diverse set of trends and challenges faced within the LIS fields. Both the morning and afternoon sessions feature presentations and speakers focusing on topics from the impact of digitization and establishing credible news sources, to conducting outreach to minority groups and reinventing programming for the digital natives of the Millennial Generation and Generation Z. Beyond this, the symposium also features a poster lightning round, with posters discussing emerging trends and pedagogy in archival and librarian services.

“Since 2009, Catholic University of America has been proud to have established a community of learning and knowledge-sharing through our annual Bridging the Spectrum: Symposium on Scholarship and Practice,” says Dr. Renate Chancellor, Associate Professor and University Pre-Law Advisor. Chancellor, who serves on the Symposium Committee, went on to say that the impetus for the symposium was to create an opportunity for practitioners, students and faculty in LIS to come together to showcase the wide range of research taking place throughout DC/VA/MD region. “It’s exciting to know that we are celebrating our 10th anniversary and all of the wonderful speakers, panels, and poster sessions we have seen over the years,” says Chancellor, “and to know that we have been instrumental in fostering a forum for dialogue on the important issues relevant to the LIS community.”

Bridging the Spectrum: A Symposium on Scholarship and Practice in Library and Information Science, is open to the public, and will be held in the Great Room of the Pryzbala Student Center on CUA’s campus. For more information about how to register to attend, please visit http://lis.cua.edu/symposium/2018/. We look forward to seeing you there!

This guest post was contributed by Babak Zarin, an LIS candidate at CUA and research assistant for Dr. Renate Chancellor.

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UPDATE: 50 Senators support CRA to restore Net Neutrality

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Senate legislation to restore 2015’s strong, enforceable net neutrality rules now has the bipartisan support from 50 of 100 senators and would be assured of passage if just one more Republican backs the effort. The bill is a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution from Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), which would block the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) December repeal of net neutrality rules.

The measure is backed by all 49 members of the Senate Democratic caucus, including 47 Democrats and two independents who caucus with Democrats. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is the only Republican to support the bill so far, and supporters are trying to secure one more Republican vote. A successful CRA vote, in this case, would invalidate the FCC’s net neutrality repeal and prevent the FCC from issuing a similar repeal in the future. But the Senate action needs a counterpart in the House, and this Congressional action would be subject to Presidential approval.

ALA is working with allies to encourage Congress to overturn the FCC’s egregious action. Email your members of Congress today and ask them to use a Joint Resolution of Disapproval under the CRA to repeal the December 2018 FCC action and restore the 2015 Open Internet Order protections.

We will continue to update you on the activities above and other developments as we continue to work to preserve a neutral internet.

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Tax season is here: How libraries can help communities prepare

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This blog post, written by Lori Baux of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, is one in a series of occasional posts contributed by leaders from coalition partners and other public interest groups that ALA’s Washington Office works closely with. Whatever the policy – copyright, education, technology, to name just a few – we depend on relationships with other organizations to influence legislation, policy and regulatory issues of importance to the library field and the public.

It’s hard to believe, but as the holiday season comes to an end, tax season is about to begin.

For decades, public libraries have become unparalleled resources in their communities, far beyond their traditional, literary role. Libraries assist those who need it most by providing free Internet access, offering financial literacy classes, job training, employment assistance and more. And for decades, libraries have served as a critical resource during tax season.

Each year, more and more Americans feel as though they lack the necessary resources to confidently and correctly file their taxes on time. This is particularly true for moderate and lower-income individuals and families who are forced to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet. The question is “where is help available?”

Libraries across the country are stepping up their efforts to assist local taxpayers in filing their taxes for free. Many libraries offer in-person help, often serving as a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) location or AARP Tax-Aide site. But appointments often fill up quickly, and many communities are without much, if any free in-person tax assistance.

There is an option for free tax prep that libraries can provide—and with little required from already busy library staff. The next time that a local individual or family comes looking for a helping hand with tax preparation, libraries can guide them to a free online tax preparation resource—IRS Free File:

  • Through the Free File Program, those who earned $66,000 or less last year—over 70 percent of all American taxpayers—are eligible to use at least one of 12 brand-name tax preparation software to file their Federal (and in many cases, state) taxes completely free of charge. More information is available at www.irs.gov/freefile. Free File starts on January 12, 2018.
  • Free File complements local VITA programs, where people can get in-person help from IRS certified volunteers. There are over 12,000 VITA programs across the country to help people in your community maximize their refund and claim all the credits that they deserve, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Any individual making under $54,000 annually may qualify. More information on VITAs is available at www.irs.gov/vita. More information about AARP Tax-Aide can be found here.

With help from libraries and volunteers across the nation, we can work together to ensure that as many taxpayers as possible have access to the resources and assistance that they need to file their returns.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) hosts a website – www.taxtimeallies.org – that provides resources to inform and assist eligible taxpayers with filing their taxes including fact sheets, flyers and traditional and social media outreach tools. CCIA also encourages folks to download the IRS2Go app on their mobile phone.

Thanks to help from libraries just like yours, we can help eligible taxpayers prepare and file their tax returns on time and free of charge.

Lori Baux is Senior Manager for Grassroots Programs, directing public education and outreach projects on behalf of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), an international not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to innovation and enhancing society’s access to information and communications.

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ALA to Congress in 2018: Continue to #FundLibraries

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2017 was an extraordinary year for America’s libraries. When faced with serious threats to federal library funding, ALA members and library advocates rallied in unprecedented numbers to voice their support for libraries at strategic points throughout the year*. Tens of thousands of phone calls and emails to Congress were registered through ALA’s legislative action center. ALA members visited Congress in Washington and back home to demonstrate the importance of federal funding.

The challenge to #FundLibraries in 2018 is great: not only is Congress late in passing an FY 2018 budget, it’s time to start working on the FY 2019 budget.

ALA members have a lot to be proud of. Thanks to library advocates, Congress did not follow the administration’s lead in March 2017, when the president made a bold move to eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and virtually all federal library funding. In every single state and congressional district, ALA members spoke up in support for federal library funding. We reminded our senators and representatives how indispensable libraries are for the communities they represent. And our elected leaders listened. By the time FY 2018 officially began in October 2017, the Appropriations Committees from both chambers of Congress had passed bills that maintained (and in the Senate, increased by $4 million) funding for libraries.

Despite our strong advocacy, we have not saved library funding for FY 2018. We’re more than three months into the fiscal year, and the U.S. government still does not have an FY 2018 budget. Because the House and Senate have not reconciled their FY 2018 spending bills, the government is operating under a “continuing resolution” (CR) of the FY 2017 budget. What happens when that CR expires on January 19, 2018, is a matter of intense speculation; options include a bi-partisan budget deal, another CR or a possible government shutdown.

While government may seem to be paralyzed, this is no time for library advocates to take a break. The challenge in 2018 is even greater than 2017: not only is Congress late in passing an FY 2018 budget, it’s time to start working on the FY 2019 budget. The president is expected to release his FY 2019 budget proposal in February, and we have no reason to believe that libraries have moved up on the list of priorities for the administration.

2018 is a time for all of us to take our advocacy up a notch. Over the coming weeks, ALA’s Washington Office will roll out resources to help you tell your library story and urge your members of Congress to #FundLibraries. In the meantime, here’s what you can do:

Stay informed. The U.S. budget and appropriations process is more dynamic than ever this year. There is a strong chance that we will be advocating for library funding for FY 2018 and FY 2019 at the same time. Regularly visit DistrictDispatch.org, the Washington Office blog, where we will post the latest information on ALA’s #FundLibraries campaign and sign up for ALA’s Legislative Action Center.

Stay involved. What you show your decision-makers at home is important part of our year-round advocacy program because it helps supplement the messages that your ALA Washington team is sharing with legislators and their staff on the Hill. Keep showing them how your library – and IMLS funding – is transforming your community. Planned to attend National Library Legislative Day 2018 in Washington (May 7-8) or Virtual Library Legislative Day from home.

Stay proud of your influence. Every day you prove that libraries are places of innovation, opportunity and learning – that libraries are a smart, high-return investment for our nation. When librarians speak, decision-makers listen!

*2017: Federal appropriations and library advocacy timeline March The president announced in his first budget proposal that he wanted to eliminate IMLS and virtually all federal funding for libraries. April ALA members asked their representatives to sign two Dear Appropriator letters sent from library champions in the House to the Chair and Ranking Members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that deals with library funding (Labor, Health & Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, or “Labor-HHS”). One letter was in support of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), and one letter was for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program (IAL).

House Results: One-third of the entire House of Representatives, from both parties, signed each Dear Appropriator letter, and nearly 170 Members signed at least one. May More than 500 ALA members came to Washington, D.C. to meet their members of Congress for ALA’s 2017 National Library Legislative Day. Nearly identical Dear Appropriator letters were sent to Senate Labor-HHS Approps Subcommittee leaders.

Senate Results: 45 Senators signed the LSTA letter, and 37 signed the IAL letter. July The House Labor-HHS Subcommittee and then the full Committee passed their appropriations bill, which included funding for IMLS, LSTA and IAL at 2017 levels. September The House passed an omnibus spending package, which included 12 appropriations bills. The Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee and then the full Committee passed their appropriations bill, which included a $4 million increase for LSTA above the 2017 level.  Unable to pass FY 2018 funding measures, Congress passed a continuing resolution, averting a government shutdown. December Congress passed two additional CRs, which run through January 19, 2018.

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