Legislative Updates

FY 2018 library funding remains uncut by House Appropriations Committee

ALA District Dispatch -

Yesterday evening, the House Appropriations Committee confirmed its support for federal library funding by voting to approve the same funding levels passed by the Labor-HHS Subcommittee last week. Yesterday’s action was another significant step toward ensuring FY 2018 funding of $231 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)—including $183.6 million for Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) programs—and $27 million for the Department of Education’s Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program. These sums equal FY 2017 levels.

In addition, as the Subcommittee did last week, the full Committee today also approved $413.9 million for the National Library of Medicine, an increase of $20 million over FY 2017. The Committee also approved appropriations for other significant funding programs in which libraries are eligible to participate. Their levels of support relative to last year are shown here (note: the chart is in thousands of dollars). The Subcommittee and full Committee made cuts to some programs, most notably the elimination of the Department of Education’s Striving Readers program. ALA will continue to work in coalition to restore these funds.

At yesterday’s full committee markup session, the Committee debated and voted on several hours of amendments covering a range of issues, none of which addressed direct library funding.

The Labor-HHS funding bill now heads to the floor for consideration by the full House and a vote, the timing of which is increasingly uncertain. House leaders had floated the possibility of voting on a compiled package of multiple appropriations bills (a.k.a., an omnibus) before the August recess. The prospects of that appear to be fading, which means consideration of the Labor-HHS funding bill approved yesterday in Committee is likely to slip to September or even later in the fall.

The Senate has not moved yet on a Labor-HHS funding measure and is expected to take this bill up after the August recess. The Senate’s shortened recess could provide it time to begin acting on funding measures, but finishing work on the Labor-HHS bill could take the Senate well into the fall. Congress must send 12 appropriations bills to the President before the October 1 start of the fiscal year to avoid a government shutdown. In the past, Congress has failed to do that and instead passed a Continuing Resolution, which is a temporary funding measure that allows the government to operate until an agreement can be reached on the appropriations bills.

Yesterday’s successful and extremely important full Appropriations Committee vote is another major milestone in ALA’s Fight for Libraries! campaign, but there are many more challenges to come.

ALA will continue to lead the fight as the FY 2018 appropriations process moves forward. After tens of thousands of library advocates’ emails, tweets, and calls, Congress has heard the library community’s support for IMLS, LSTA and IAL funding loudly and clearly. While the news is good today, the game is certainly not over and we will continue to need your help.

If you have been fighting with us, thank you! If you haven’t yet had a chance to join the fray, today would be a great day to sign up.

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Rights reversion: restoring knowledge and culture, one book at a time

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Guest post by: Brianna Schofield, Executive Director, Authors Alliance; Erika Wilson, Communications & Operations Manager, Authors Alliance

Erika Wilson, Communications & Operations Manager, Authors Alliance

Brianna Schofield, Executive Director, Authors Alliance

For many of us, it’s an all-too-familiar scenario: We’re searching for a book that’s fallen out of print and is unavailable to read or purchase online. Maybe it’s an academic text, with volumes held in only a few research library collections and all but inaccessible to the public. Or maybe it’s one of the many 20th-century books whose initial commercial life has ended, and whose copyright status means they have disappeared. Most of these books were published long before the advent of the Internet, or of e-books. Finding and accessing these volumes can be frustrating and time-consuming, even with the benefit of interlibrary loan. There’s all this valuable knowledge and culture out there, but we can’t get to it!

Wouldn’t it be great if there were some mechanism to give new life to the many books that have been “locked away,” to make them newly available, and to share them with new audiences?

Thanks to rights reversion, there is a way! Reversion enables authors to regain the rights to their previously published books, so that they can make them newly available in the ways they want. Some authors may want to bring their out-of-print books back into print, while others may want to deposit their books in open access online repositories. Still others might want to update their works, create e-book versions with multimedia resources, or commission translations.

A “right of reversion” is a contractual provision that permits authors to work with their publishers to regain some or all of the rights in their books when certain conditions are met. But authors may also be able to revert rights even if they have not met the triggering conditions in their contract, or if their contracts do not have a reversion clause at all! Reversion can be a powerful tool for authors, but many authors do not know where to start.

That’s where Authors Alliance comes in. We’re a non-profit education and advocacy organization whose mission is to facilitate widespread access to works of authorship by assisting authors who want to share knowledge and products of the imagination broadly. We provide information and tools designed to help authors better understand and manage key legal, technological, and institutional aspects of authorship in the digital age.

Our Guide to Understanding Rights Reversion was written to help authors navigate the reversion process. (Check out the rights reversion portal on our website to download or buy the guide, and for more resources including letter templates for use in contacting publishers about reversion). Since we released the guide two years ago, we’ve featured a number of reversion success stories. For example, Robert Darnton (professor emeritus at Harvard and a founding member of Authors Alliance) worked with his publisher to regain rights to two of his books about the French Enlightenment, and he has made them freely available to all via HathiTrust and the Authors Alliance collection page at the Internet Archive. Novelist and Authors Alliance member Tracee Garner successfully leveraged reversion to regain the rights to two of her previously published books. She’s currently working on a third volume, and she plans to release all three as a new trilogy.

Rights reversion has a great deal of potential to help authors and the public, and librarians are in an excellent position to help spread the word about reversion. Many senior academics have decades’ worth of scholarly books, many of which may be out of print and locked away in inaccessible library stacks. None of them are available online. Rights reversion can be a way to help authors ensure their intellectual legacy, while also bring their works to new audiences.

Reversion is good for authors, good for publishers, and good for the public interest. You can learn more by visiting our website, where we invite you to become a member of Authors Alliance! Basic membership is free, and our members are the first to hear of new resources, such as our forthcoming guide to fair use and our guide to publication contracts. We also feature news on copyright policy and advocacy.

If you have questions about rights reversion, we can be reached at reversions@authorsalliance.org. We’d also love to hear about your experiences with assisting authors with these issues—who knows, maybe yours could be the next rights reversion success story!

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ALA comments filed at the FCC

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Image credit: https://vimeo.com

Today, ALA continues the fight for an open internet for all. In comments filed at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), ALA questions the need to review current net neutrality rules and urges regulators to maintain the strong, enforceable rules already in place.

“Network neutrality is all about equity of access to information, and thus of fundamental interest to libraries,” said ALA President Jim Neal. “The 2015 Open Internet Order is the right reading of the law, and we do not see any reason for the FCC to arbitrarily return to this issue now. Without strong, enforceable rules protecting the open internet—like those outlined in the FCC’s 2015 Order—libraries cannot fulfill their missions, serve their patrons or support America’s communities.”

The ALA comments, filed with the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA), make clear that our nation’s 120,000 libraries—and their patrons—depend on fair access to broadband networks for basic services they provide in communities like connecting people to unbiased research, job searches, e-government services, health information and economic opportunity.

Moreover, as people increasingly turn from being solely content consumers to content producers, access to the internet and other library resources empower all to participate fully in today’s vibrant digital economy. And, the comments note, the library community has always had the professional and philosophical mission of preserving the unimpeded flow of information and intellectual freedom. Libraries believe ensuring equitable access for all people and institutions is critical to our nation’s social, cultural, educational and economic well-being and the existing net neutrality rules protect that access.

Absent strong, enforceable rules, commercial ISPs have financial incentives to interfere with the openness of the internet in ways that are likely to be harmful to people who use the internet content and services provided by libraries. Being able to prioritize their own content over anything else available online would allow ISPs to reap huge dividends at internet users’ expense. Pointing to increasing consolidation in the fixed and mobile broadband markets, the comments argue that these rules are becoming more necessary, not less.

The organizations filing comments today have a long history of advocating for the open internet, most recently sending letters to the FCC and Congressional leaders articulating Net Neutrality Principles that should form the basis of any review of the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order.

This post is from an ALA’s press release issued today: ala.org/news/press-releases/2017/07/ala-argues-retain-2015-open-internet-protections-fcc-comments

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Library funding bill passes Labor HHS

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In response to today’s House subcommittee vote, ALA President Jim Neal sent ALA members the following update:

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


I am pleased to report that, this evening, the House Appropriations subcommittee that deals with library funding (Labor, Health & Human Services, Education and Related Agencies) voted to recommend level funding in FY2018 for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS, $231 million), likely including $183 million for the Library Services and Technology Act, as well as $27 million for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program.

Four months ago, President Trump announced that he wanted to eliminate IMLS and federal funding for libraries. Since then, all of us have been communicating with our members of Congress about the value of libraries. This evening’s Subcommittee vote, one important step in the lengthy congressional appropriations process, shows that our elected officials are listening to us and recognize libraries’ importance in the communities they represent. We are grateful to the leaders of the Subcommittee, Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK-4) and Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3), and all Subcommittee members, for their support.

We have not saved FY18 federal library funding yet. Hurdles can arise at each stage of the appropriations process, which will continue into the fall. But the fact that federal library funding was not cut at this particular stage shows what can be accomplished when ALA members work together. We expect the full House Appropriations Committee to vote on the subcommittee bills as early as next Wednesday, July 19. I will send an update as soon as we have the results of the full committee’s actions.

In the meantime, I encourage you to stay informed and stay involved. Libraries and the millions of people we serve are in a better position today because of your advocacy.

Thank you,

Jim Neal

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Breaking #SaveIMLS news from ALA Pres. Jim Neal

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Today, ALA President Jim Neal sent this #SaveIMLS campaign update to the ALA membership regarding tomorrow’s vote on the House Appropriations Committee bill:


I’m pleased, but with important cautions, to tell you that all of our collective work to Fight for Libraries! is poised to pay off dramatically. Key parts of the House Appropriations Subcommittee bill that is scheduled to be voted on tomorrow afternoon at 4:30 EDT were released late this afternoon. The bill does NOT cut last year’s funding to the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Once final, that would mean no cuts to LSTA in this critical first vote stage! (We’ll know about Innovative Approaches to Literacy tomorrow.)

Now the cautions… While unlikely, an amendment could be offered to the bill that changes the IMLS appropriation. In addition, after tomorrow’s vote, there will be at least two further procedural opportunities for the bill to be amended. After the House acts, of course, the Senate will take its turn, though probably not for some months.

As the phrase goes, therefore, this is definitely NOT over until it’s over. We will report immediately on the results of tomorrow’s Subcommittee vote. I hope very much that the next thing for us to do will be to thank our House supporters.

Until early evening tomorrow in Washington, please join me in crossing your fingers.

Jim Neal
ALA President

Further updates will be sent out as we get them. In the meantime, if you are a constituent of a Representative working on the Labor HHS subcommittee, give them a call!

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Speak up on Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality

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Today, ALA joins close to 200 organizations participating in a Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality. Websites, internet users and online communities are coming together to sound the alarm about the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s attack on net neutrality. You can add your voice to a growing and powerful chorus.

ALA and America’s libraries believe protecting and preserving the open internet is essential for ensuring the free flow of information to all, which underpins free speech, research and learning, economic empowerment and digital innovation. We have historically and currently support strong, enforceable net neutrality rules from the FCC as a matter of our values and ethics, public mission and professional practice as broadband consumers and advocates.

I often get the question—from librarians, net neutrality advocates and adversaries) —about the specific ALA- and library-stake in this issue. I’ve thought about it a lot over the last 8+ years working on this issue and here are a few of the things I see through a library lens.

As a matter of principle, library professionals commit to professional values of intellectual freedom, equitable access to information and diversity. Consider:

  • Intellectual freedom and free expression are as fundamental to the Internet as the First Amendment is to American democracy. These also are the core values of America’s public, K-12 school, higher education and all libraries. Commercial ISPs should not be enabled to serve as gatekeepers for the information people may freely access online.
  • Equitable access to information online depends on the open internet. Prioritized access to some content over others is antithetical to librarian and democratic values. It also runs counter to the innovative and “permissionless” nature of the internet that enables creators to reach global audiences by the quality of their offerings rather than the size of their wallet.
  • Embedded in both of the above is a commitment to the need to foster and share a diversity of voices, ideas and experiences.

As a matter of practice, libraries collect, create, provide access to and disseminate essential information to the public over the internet. Consider:

  • Will libraries—largely funded through public dollars—be able to compete for priority access to share diverse digital collections that range from community newspaper and photo archives to downloadable local music to veterans’ oral history projects to documentary video?
  • Will libraries be able to pay increased fees to vendors that may pass along the costs of paying for prioritized access to their streaming and downloadable media resources?
  • Will libraries be required to consider the affiliated (and therefore likely prioritized) content available through a commercial ISP when selecting their broadband provider(s)? And will they be forced to pay multiple ISPs to provide service to enable public access to affiliated content?
  • Will libraries’ ability to provide no-fee public internet access to support bandwidth-intensive services ranging from high-definition video conferencing and distance learning to big data sharing to telemedicine be compromised if these services are throttled in favor of commercial content preferred by commercial ISPs?
  • How will libraries educate their public internet users to these choices and limitations related to prioritized content—both in terms of patrons’ access and their ability to contribute their own cultural and commercial products to other internet users? How transparent will ISP practices be to libraries and the campuses, communities and individuals we serve?

America’s libraries and librarians are rightly recognized as essential democratic institutions and leading advocates for people’s rights to read and express themselves freely. The internet is today’s most essential platform for this speech and expression.

An open internet in which commercial ISPs are prohibited from blocking, throttling, degrading, discriminating or prioritizing among online content and services is essential to free expression and equitable access and contribution to online information.

To preserve the open internet, we must have legal protections and the ability of the expert government agency to enforce these protections. The 2015 Open Internet Order enables these protections, creates a framework for addressing future conduct concerns, and allows for the flexibility to forbear where needed. The FCC must retain and use as needed its lawful authority and not entrust the future of the internet to entities whose financial interests may vary significantly from the public interests.

Today is a big day, but one among many ahead to preserve the gains ALA and other network neutrality advocates made in 2014 and 2015. Please join us now in sending the strongest message possible to the FCC about the value of an open internet for libraries and the people we serve. And please stay tuned and share your questions and ideas with us in the coming weeks and months.

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Ready to Code Faculty get ready to go at ALA Annual!

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During ALA’s recent Annual Conference in Chicago, Libraries Ready to Code (RtC) Faculty Fellows and Phase II project team met in person for the first time and for a full day and a half workshop during ALA’s Annual Conference in June. The purpose: to get deep into defining computational thinking in a way that resonates with the library community, parsing out RtC concepts and deconstructing faculty syllabi with these things in mind.

Ready to Code Phase II Faculty Fellows and project team met at Google Chicago during ALA’s Annual Conference in June. Photo credit: Emily Wagner

ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) launched Phase II of the RtC project along with our partner, Google, Inc., in January 2017. Phase II focuses on Library and Information Science graduate programs and consists of a faculty cohort of six RtC Fellows that will redesign one of their current technology/media courses based on RtC concepts (i.e., increasing access and exposure to CS, changing perceptions of who does CS, and connecting CS to youth interests or CS+X). Faculty will pilot the redesigned courses at their institutions this fall.

RtC Faculty Fellows are: Dr. Colette Drouillard, Valdosta State University (GA); Dr. Melissa Johnston, University of West Georgia; Dr. Rachel Magee, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Dr. Jennifer Moore, Texas Woman’s University; Dr. Joe Sanchez, City University of New York; and Dr. Natalie Taylor, University of South Florida. Phase II RtC project team members are: Marijke Visser (OITP), Linda Braun (Librarians & Educators Online), Mega Subramaniam (University of Maryland) and Caitlin Martin (Stanford University).

Ready to Code Phase II Faculty Fellows brainstormed content for LIS course syllabi with sticky notes and marker scribbles. Photo credit: Caitlin Martin

RtC Faculty Fellow Rachel Magee describes the workshop this way:

Attending the Ready to Code Workshop at this year’s ALA Annual Meeting was a unique opportunity to collaborate with other faculty who teach “pre-service librarians,” or students currently completing library school. Our group included professors from all over the country, and we were able to work together to develop our understandings of computational thinking and brainstorm ways to incorporate it into classes for students specifically focused on youth services.

Our classes range from in-person courses to online classes that meet both asynchronously and synchronously. We’re all focused on youth services broadly, but each class has its own flavor. My course is built on service learning and requires students to volunteer in an organization that serves or supports youth. Bringing Ready to Code concepts into this course will include in-depth discussions of ways these organizations engage with computational thinking, and give students the opportunity to plan these kinds of programs themselves.

At the end of the workshop, Fellows not only left with a framework and timeline for redesigning their syllabi, they left with a strong level of commitment to the importance of their work as RtC Fellows. Throughout the summer, the Fellows will continue to connect with their cohort colleagues as they fine tune the approaches they will take in embedding RtC into their courses.

While the end of the fall semester seems like a ways off, Phase II will culminate in graduate level course models that equip MLIS students to deliver coding programs through public and school libraries that foster computational thinking skills among the nation’s youth. Well-trained MLIS graduates will enable libraries around the country to broaden and diversify access to computer science education. Faculty Fellows will share revised syllabi and course models with colleagues across the LIS community and serve as ambassadors to encourage other faculty to embed RtC concepts in curriculum.

Additional information is available on the Libraries Ready to Code website.


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Protecting public access to earth science information

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This week, ALA sent a letter calling for continued funding for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Library and public access to its collections and services. 

USGS is a scientific agency within the Interior Department. The USGS Library bills itself as “largest earth science library in the world.”

President Trump’s budget proposes to cut $137.8 million from USGS, a 13% reduction from the current year. Out of that total, $3 million would come from the USGS Library – reportedly, a 52% cut. Such a drastic and disproportionate cut would close at least three, and potentially all four, of the library’s locations, and would eliminate public access to its collections.

Implementing these proposed library cuts would be penny wise and pound foolish. Investments in the USGS Library provide at least a 7:1 return, according to a group of trade and science organizations. Industries ranging from energy to mining to insurance widely use the maps, publications, and other resources that the USGS Library provides.

The House Interior Appropriations subcommittee is scheduled to begin consideration of its funding bill for USGS this week, with the Senate expected to follow at a later date. Amidst the larger “Fight for Libraries!” campaign to preserve federal funding for libraries, we hope that Congress will also remember the value of the USGS Library to America’s economic and scientific enterprise.

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First key vote on FY18 library funding set for July 13

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Earlier today, the House Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees library funding announced that it will meet and vote this Thursday afternoon, July 13 at 10 a.m., to consider a key vote on a large spending bill that will save, trim or totally wipe out the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL). That means that if you happen to live in one of the 13 congressional districts (in 12 states) represented by a member of this powerful and pivotal Subcommittee, you also have incredible power for the next 48 hours to help determine what happens to IMLS, LSTA and IAL funding for FY 2018.

This Thursday will be the first key vote in the House of Representatives related to federal library funding in FY2018. Photo credit: CT Health Notes blog

Please, use that power now. To find out if you’re a key constituent, enter your zip code at ALA’s Legislative Action Center. If you are, the Center is set to help you quickly send an email to or Tweet at your Representative. (If you’re not in one of these 13 congressional districts, please don’t be discouraged; we will definitely need you later!)

The message is simple: “Save IMLS. Give LSTA $186.6 million and IAL $27 million in FY18. Thank you!”

That’s it. There will be more votes in other committees later, but this first one could set the stage for all others. We have until Thursday afternoon to convince 13 key members of Congress to do the right thing. Now’s really the time to fight for libraries!

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Congratulations to Marijke Visser

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Associate Director and Senior Policy Advocate Marijke Visser (center) speaking on a panel about E-rate alongside her colleagues at ALA’s most recent National Library Legislative Day.

I had a great experience at the recent Conference in Chicago hope you did, too. There is such positive energy being amongst thousands of library folks dedicated to advancing services in their respective communities, the library profession and ALA. A particular highlight for me was announcing Marijke Visser’s promotion to Associate Director and Senior Policy Advocate at the Friday meeting of the OITP Advisory Committee.

Under Marijke’s leadership, ALA’s engagement and profile in libraries and coding have blossomed. The most recent development is Google’s sponsorship of $500,000 of funding to ALA to provide grants to libraries for coding initiatives, with a focus on promoting youth engagement by girls and other underrepresented groups in computer science-related educational and career paths. But this development is only the latest installment in a multi-year initiative with Google that includes an in-process project on MLS education and coding and an initial project to characterize the lay of the land.

Marijke’s work also serves to strengthen our collaboration with ALA divisions. In the latest effort, YALSA will administer the grant program (the request for proposals will be released in the next few weeks: please apply!). AASL, ALSC, YALSA and OITP will comprise the selection committee.

Through Marijke’s initiative, we also are collaborating with Rosen Publishing. Already one advocacy video for Libraries Ready to Code has been produced through the generosity of Rosen Publishing and more is in the works. In addition, we have a new collaboration with the National Center for Women & Information Technology and a budding one with another key organization in coding (stay tuned!).

Last, but certainly not least, is Marijke’s leadership in advocating for libraries within the E-rate program. Her work with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) helped lead to an increase in annual E-rate funding from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion. We expect E-rate to rise on the FCC policy agenda once net neutrality is addressed, so work has begun on our strategy for advocacy this fall and into 2018. Marijke’s reputation also has developed within the world of telecommunications policy more broadly, as illustrated by her invitation to serve on an advisory committee of NTCA—the Rural Broadband Association.

I hope that you will join me in congratulating Marijke on this well-deserved recognition.

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One library’s creative advocacy campaign to #SaveIMLS

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In light of the threatened cuts to IMLS and federal library funding this year, we have seen an outpouring a support and an increase in advocacy efforts by librarian across the country. Over 42,000 emails were sent to the House and Senate during the Fight for Libraries! campaign alone! But many libraries did not stop at phone calls and emails.

In April, Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library decided to showcase how different types of funding (including state and federal) help the library to provide valuable services for their patrons. The librarians tied balloons around objects and materials in the library, using different colored balloons to signify the different funding sources that made the resources possible. The result was a low-cost, eye-catching campaign that got the patron attention they were hoping for!

Balloon color key:

BLUE: Groups such as Friends of the library, Hooper Fund, Cape Ann Savings Bank
RED: State, federal support with grants, networks, deliveries, e-materials & more
YELLOW: Private gifts and donations of funds, materials, and resources

Balloons signifying different funding sources at Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library Source: Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library

We interviewed Kate Stradt, the Head of Youth Services at Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library, about their creative response to the President’s budget and the proposed cuts to federal library funding.

What prompted you to put together this campaign?
This campaign came about as a response to the threat to see the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) defunded. We thought the campaign would be a great way to visually show patrons what services they use thanks to all sorts of funding, from the generosity of private donors, the Friends, and the Trustees, to the massive support from the federal and state governments. We were thrilled by the opportunity to simultaneously educate and celebrate our community. We decided to run this campaign during National Library Week to take advantage of the spirit of celebration sweeping libraries nationwide.

What kind of research did you need to do before you got started?
The first genesis of the idea came about many years ago when our current library director, Sara Collins, was at a conference and heard another librarian talking about using balloons to celebrate the library. Then this year, I was thinking of ways we could communicate the value of the services we provide more effectively to patrons. My idea was to put large price tags on different items patrons frequently use identifying who had provided the funds to make those services available. In conversation with the Friends of the Library, the decision was made to combine those ideas and mark items around the library with different-colored balloons, with each color representing a different source of funding.

What materials were used? Did you have a budget?
We used balloons and paper to post flyers about it and that’s it! The balloons were bought for us by the Friends of the Library. Overall, it was pretty inexpensive, although the balloons began to sink throughout the week and it would have been more expensive to get new ones. But the great thing about this project is that it’s adjustable and affordable – you can do as many balloons as your budget allows, or go with paper price tags for an even more thrifty option.

How did you promote the campaign to your community? Were there posters or flyers in the library? How about social media?
We promoted the campaign in several ways. We promoted it in newspapers as part of our weekly press release, put it on the signs outside, had flyers around the library, and educated the staff to be able to talk about what the balloons represented and where the funds had come from. I reached out to ALA and we promoted it on our Facebook page as well – the goal was to get the whole community celebrating! In some ways, we didn’t have to do a lot of promoting – those balloons brought attention to themselves!

How was the campaign received by the community?
The campaign was received very enthusiastically! The balloons created an instant positive impact on the moods of everyone who came in. They were an immediate connection point to the librarians; every day someone would come in and say, “What’s the occasion?” and I would get to say, “We’re having a party for the library to celebrate all the people and groups that have made our services possible!” Then we could naturally lead into explaining what the balloons meant and how the services had been paid for and the end result felt like we were positively educating the community on some of the more opaque aspects of the inner library workings. It really created a library-wide attitude of gratitude – us to the community, the community to us.

How do you see the campaign evolving over time?
I think it would be incredibly fun to do the campaign again, to take the goodwill the balloons built and really drill down into some more specific services that have had far-reaching effects. For example, we are able to provide teen services due to a state-administered IMLS grant. The grant paid for teen books, teen furniture, and helped create a teen librarian professional position. I would love to spend a day specifically highlighting that asset, as well as other tangible high-impact services on other days. I also would love to extend the education into advocacy. For example, it would be amazing to have the balloons up as well as a workstation for writing postcards to legislators or to pass out volunteer forms, or forms for the Friends of the Library, or information about donating to the library. The balloons highlight how our library thrives thanks to monetary support, but there is so much patrons can do on individual levels to support the library. Next year, it would be exciting to empower our library-loving patrons to be their own best advocates.

You can see more photos of the project on the Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library’s Facebook page.

How has your library turned federal politics into local advocacy work? Do you have a campaign planned during the August recess, when Members of Congress will be back in their states and districts? Share your ideas in the comments and let us know how you plan to get involved.

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Libraries across the U.S. are Ready to Code

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This post was originally published on Google’s blog The Keyword.

“It always amazes me how interested both parents and kids are in coding, and how excited they become when they learn they can create media on their own–all by using code.” – Emily Zorea, Youth Services Librarian, Brewer Public Library

Emily Zorea is not a computer scientist. She’s a Youth Services Librarian at the Brewer Public Library in Richland Center, Wisconsin, but when she noticed that local students were showing an interest in computer science (CS), she started a coding program at the library. Though she didn’t have a CS background, she understood that coding, collaboration and creativity were critical skills for students to approach complex problems and improve the world around them. Because of Emily’s work, the Brewer Public Library is now Ready to Code. At the American Library Association, we want to give librarians like Emily the opportunity to teach these skills, which is why we are thrilled to partner with Google on the next phase of the Libraries Ready to Code initiative — a $500,000 sponsorship from Google to develop a coding toolkit and make critical skills more accessible for students across 120,000 libraries in the U.S.

Libraries will receive funding, consulting expertise, and operational support from Google to pilot a CS education toolkit that equips any librarian with the ability to implement a CS education program for kids. The resources aren’t meant to transform librarians into expert programmers but will support them with the knowledge and skills to do what they do best: empower youth to learn, create, problem solve, and develop the confidence and future skills to succeed in their future careers.

For libraries, by libraries
Librarians and staff know what works best for their communities, so we will rely on them to help us develop the toolkit. This summer a cohort of libraries will receive coding resources, like CS First, a free video-based coding club that doesn’t require CS knowledge, to help them facilitate CS programs. Then we’ll gather feedback from the cohort so that we can build a toolkit that is useful and informative for other libraries who want to be Ready to Code. The cohort will also establish a community of schools and libraries who value coding, and will use their knowledge and expertise to help that community.

Critical thinking skills for the future
Though every student who studies code won’t become an engineer, critical thinking skills are essential in all career paths. That is why Libraries Ready to Code also emphasizes computational thinking, a basic set of problem-solving skills, in addition to code, that is at the heart of connecting the libraries’ mission of fostering critical thinking with computer science.

“Ready to Code means having the resources available so that if someone is interested in coding or wants to explore it further they are able to. Knowing where to point youth can allow them to begin enjoying and exploring coding on their own.”- Jason Gonzales, technology specialist, Muskogee Public Library

Many of our library educators, like Jason Gonzales, a technology specialist at the Muskogee Public Library, already have exemplary programs that combine computer science and computational thinking. His community is located about 50 miles outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, so the need for new programming was crucial, given that most youth are not able to travel to the city to pursue their interests. When students expressed an overwhelming interest in video game design, he knew what the focus of a new summer coding camp would be. Long-term, he hopes students will learn more digital literacy skills so they are comfortable interacting with technology and applying it to other challenges now and in the future.

From left to right: Jessie ‘Chuy’ Chavez of Google, Inc. with Marijke Visser and Alan Inouye of ALA’s OITP at the Google Chicago office.

When the American Library Association and Google announced the Libraries Ready to Code initiative last year, it began as an effort to learn about CS activities, like the ones that Emily and Jason led. We then expanded to work with university faculty at Library and Information Science (LIS) schools to integrate CS content their tech and media courses. Our next challenge is scaling these successes to all our libraries, which is where our partnership with Google, and the development of a toolkit, becomes even more important. Keep an eye out in July for a call for libraries to participate in developing the toolkit. We hope it will empower any library, regardless of geography, expertise, or affluence to provide access to CS education and ultimately, skills that will make students successful in the future.

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House expected to approve CTE reauthorization

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Perkins CTE Program helps library patrons thrive in 21st Century Economy

Libraries play numerous roles in communities across the country, working generally to meet the needs of their patrons at every life stage. Whether providing high-speed broadband access to rural and urban communities alike, running youth reading sessions and book clubs, teaching computer literacy to patrons seeking to learn new skills or aiding small businesses, libraries serve as learning centers helping patrons along their career paths.

Libraries also play a valuable and specific role in supporting and working to improve secondary and postsecondary Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs funded by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (“Perkins Act”), the federal bill which governs the more than $1 billion in federal funding for career and technical education activities across the country. Such programs help equip youth and adults with the academic, technical and employability skills and knowledge needed to secure employment in today’s high-growth industries. In so doing, libraries help close the “skills gap” and expand economic opportunity to more communities across the nation. Some libraries work directly with their state labor and employment offices to implement CTE programs which receive Federal funding.

Libraries and certified librarians also provide valuable CTE resources, equipment, technology, instructional aids, and publications designed to strengthen and foster academic and technical skills achievement. In many communities, libraries play a significant role in career and technical development. Often the library is the only place where patrons can access the high-speed broadband vital to those working to apply for jobs, research careers, and towards enhanced certification and training.

As early as this week, the House of Representatives is expected to pass legislation reauthorizing the Perkins Act, which was originally adopted in 1984. ALA recently submitted a letter to the House Committee on Education and Workforce supporting this bi-partisan legislation: the Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353), which was approved by the Committee on June 6.

The House timed the vote on the reauthorization to occur during the National Week of Making spearheaded by the Congressional Maker Caucus. The week highlights the growing maker movement across the country.

We’ve been here before, however, as the House passed similar legislation in 2016 only to see reauthorization of the Perkins program stall in the Senate, where a companion bill has yet to be introduced. Unfortunately, the President’s budget seeks to cut $168.1 million from the Perkins CTE State Grant program, which had previously received $1.118 billion in funding for FY15, FY16 and FY17. ALA will continue work to support robust funding for CTE programs and, if the House acts favorably, to urge the Senate to follow its lead and promptly reauthorize the Perkins Act.

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ALA celebrates World Wi-Fi Day

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Among all their other functions in our communities, libraries are critical spaces for people to access the internet, and they are increasingly doing so wirelessly via Wi-Fi.

Virtually all public libraries in the U.S. provide Wi-Fi to patrons. By doing so, libraries serve as community technology hubs that enable digital opportunity and full participation in the nation’s economy. Wi-Fi is a critical part of how libraries are transforming our programs and services in the digital age.

June 20th was World Wi-Fi Day, a global initiative helping to bridge the digital divide as well as recognizing and celebrating the role of Wi-Fi in cities and communities around the world. In Washington, D.C., the WifiForward Coalition—of which ALA is a founding member—held a kick off celebration at the Consumer Technology Association’s Innovation House off of Capitol Hill. Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O’Rielly were on hand to expound on the wonders of Wi-Fi and to voice their support for policies that would help its growth and success.

ALA added the following statement to materials for World Wi-Fi Day:

“With Wi-Fi, our nation’s 120,000 libraries are able to dramatically increase our capacity to connect people of all incomes and backgrounds to the Internet beyond our public desktop computers. Wi-Fi allows us to serve more people anywhere in the library, as well as enabling mobile technology training labs, roving reference, access to diverse digital collections and pop-up library programs and services. Library wi-fi is essential to support The E’s of Libraries®—Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Empowerment and Engagement—on campuses and in communities nationwide. The American Library Association is proud to be a supporter of World Wi-Fi Day.”

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Librarian speaks with Rep. Eshoo at net neutrality roundtable

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“There’s nothing broken about existing net neutrality rules that needs to be fixed,” opined Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18) at a roundtable she convened in her district to discuss the impacts of the policy and the consequences of gutting it. Director of the Redwood City Public Library Derek Wolfgram joined Chris Riley, director of Public Policy at Mozilla; Gigi Sohn, former counselor to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler; Andrew Scheuermann, CEO and co-founder of Arch Systems; Evan Engstrom, executive director of Engine; Vlad Pavlov, CEO and co-founder of rollApp; Nicola Boyd, co-founder of VersaMe; and Vishy Venugopalan, vice president of Citi Ventures in the discussion.

On May 18, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai began the process of overturning critical net neutrality rules—which ensure internet service providers must treat all internet traffic the same—a move which the assembled panelists agreed would hurt businesses and consumers. The Congresswoman singled out anchor institutions—libraries and schools in particular—as important voices in the current discussion because libraries are “there for everyone.”

Having seen the impacts of the digital divide in my own community, I felt that it was very important to highlight the value of net neutrality in breaking down barriers, rather than creating new ones, for families and small businesses to connect with educational resources, employment access and opportunities for innovation.

“I was honored to have the opportunity to contribute a library perspective to Congresswoman Eshoo’s roundtable discussion on net neutrality,” said Wolfgram. “The Congresswoman clearly understands the value of libraries as ‘anchor institutions’ in this country’s educational infrastructure and recognizes the potential consequences of the erosion of equitable access to information if net neutrality were to be eliminated. Having seen the impacts of the digital divide in my own community, I felt that it was very important to highlight the value of net neutrality in breaking down barriers, rather than creating new ones, for families and small businesses to connect with educational resources, employment access and opportunities for innovation.”

In his comments to the roundtable, Wolfgram identified two reasons strong, enforceable net neutrality rules are core to libraries’ public missions: preserving intellectual freedom and promoting equitable access to information. The Redwood City Library connects patrons to all manner of content served by the internet and many of these content providers, he fears, would not have the financial resources to compete against corporate content providers. Without net neutrality, high-quality educational resources could be relegated to second tier status.

Like so many libraries across the country, the Redwood City Library provides low-cost access to the internet for members of the community who otherwise couldn’t connect. Students, even in the heart of Silicon Valley, depend on library-provided WiFi sitting in cars outside the library to get their work done, said Wolfgram. Redwood City Library has recently started loaning internet hot spots, focusing on school-age children and families in an effort to bridge this gap.

“I would hate to see this big step forward, then the students get second-class access or don’t have a full connection to the resources they need,” said Wolfgram. “The internet should contribute to the empowerment of all.”

Congresswoman Eshoo agreed, calling the current net neutrality rules, “a celebration of the First Amendment.”

Former FCC official Sohn indicated the stakes are even higher. At issue, she said, is whether the FCC will have any role in overseeing the dominant communications network of our lifetimes. The FCC’s current proposal puts at risk subsidies for providing broadband to rural residents and people with low incomes through the Lifeline program. It is, as one panelist commented, like “replacing the real rules with no rules.”

The panel concluded with a call to action and a reminder of how public comment matters: the FCC has to follow a rulemaking process and future legal challenges will depend on the robust record developed now. “It’s essential to build a record to win,” Sohn said.

And she’s right. On June 9, we published guidance on how you can comment at the FCC on why net neutrality matters to your library. You can also blog, tweet, post and talk to your community about the importance of net neutrality and show the overwhelming support for this shared public platform.

Rep. Eshoo’s office reached out to ALA to identify a librarian to participate in her roundtable. ALA, on behalf of the library community, deeply appreciates the invitation and her continuing support of libraries and the public interest.

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ALA hosts librarians from Kazakhstan

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ALA Washington was delighted to welcome an international delegation of librarians from the Republic of Kazakhstan.

For the second time in my first five months on staff with ALA Washington, we welcomed an international delegation of librarians. Alan Inouye, Shawnda Hines, our summer Google Fellow Alisa Holahan and I were delighted to spend an hour of our morning with a group of librarians from the Republic of Kazakhstan, including:

Chocolate presented to the ALA Washington Office from the Kazakhstani delegation.

Especially for a new librarian like myself, these visits are unmatched opportunities to gain exposure to the wide range of priorities and experiences in the international library field. It is also an excellent prompt to learn more about countries I have not personally visited. (Do you know what the Kazakhstan national anthem sounds like?) The Kazakhstani librarians also brought chocolate, which was a delicious surprise.

Delegations are invited to the U.S. via the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. For yesterday’s visit, our Kazakhstani friends indicated in advance that they wanted to cover the following topics:

  • The wide variety of U.S. libraries
  • Policy-making for programs and activities in American libraries
  • The role and functions of libraries and information specialists in U.S. society
  • Information technology in libraries, including online and digital services
  • Maker spaces

During our exchange, we touched on the variety of libraries in America as well as policy-making in today’s political climate, but we did not have time to cover maker spaces or information technology. The delegation was particularly interested in the structure and management of ALA and our state chapters. They shared their own experiences starting a federation of provincial libraries during the economic recession of 2008 and expressed interest in continuing to grow this new league of professionals.

The delegation plans to make several stops in Washington this week and will join the Annual meeting in Chicago to observe and learn more about American libraries, information professionals, and the management and structure of ALA.

I know I speak for my colleagues in saying that we thoroughly enjoyed our time together and that we look forward to next Wednesday when a delegation from Ethiopia will join us for what is sure to be another illuminating conversation.

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Colorado copyright conference turns five

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University of Colorado’s campus in Colorado Springs.

I had the great honor of being asked to speak about federal copyright at the Kraemer Copyright Conference at the University of Colorado (UCCS) in beautiful Colorado Springs. This locally produced and funded conference is now in its fifth year and has grown in popularity. No longer a secret, registration maxes out at 200, making the conference friendly, relaxed and relevant for all that attend.

And who attends? A growing number of primarily academic librarians responsible for their respective institutions’ copyright programs and education efforts. This job responsibility for librarians has grown significantly – in 1999 there were only two librarians in higher education with a copyright title. Now there are hundreds of copyright librarians, which is great because who other than librarians—devoted to education, learning, the discovery and sharing of information—should lead copyright efforts? (Remember! The purpose of the copyright law is to advance learning through the broad dissemination of copyright protected works.)

The conference is the brainchild of Carla Myers, a former winner of the Robert L. Oakley copyright scholarship and the scholarly communications librarian at the University of Miami who previously worked at UCCS. Funded by the Kraemer Family, conference registration is free – you just have to get there. (For the last two years, ALA has been one of the co-sponsors).

My assignment was to provide an update on copyright issues currently of attention in Congress. Registrants were most interested in pending legislation regarding the appointment of the next Copyright Register, which would move that responsibility from Librarian of Congress to the President. The new administration’s budget proposals for Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has directed more attention than ever to the political environment of the Nation’s capital, and librarians have been more active in library advocacy.

There are rumors afoot that another regionally based copyright conference is being planned, which would be a welcome addition and contribution to the administration and study of libraries and the copyright law.

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Washington Office at Annual 2017: “catalyzing” change in communities and Congress

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ALA’s Office of Government Relations (OGR) in Washington is pleased to present at ALA’s upcoming Annual Conference in Chicago two important, but very different, perspectives on how libraries and librarians can succeed in producing positive change. Both sessions will take place in the Conference Center on the morning of Saturday, June 24.

The first, from 8:30 – 10:00am, is titled “Be A Catalyst: Your Portfolio of Resources to Create Catalytic Change in Communities” (Room MCP W176a). It will feature Institute of Museum and Library Services Director Dr. Kathryn (“Kit”) Matthew, Kresge Foundation President Rip Rapson and Barbara Bartle, President of the Lincoln Community Foundation in discussion of how institutions can best leverage federal investments and their own assets through collaboration to be “enablers of community vitality and co-creators of positive community change.”

The second program, “Make Some Noise! A How-To Guide to Effective Federal Advocacy in Challenging Times”, will run from 10:30 to 11:30am (Room MCP W178b). Sponsored by ALA’s Committee on Legislation (COL), the session will be a fast-paced, practical discussion of what works in motivating members of Congress (and, for that matter, all elected policy makers) to support libraries and the issues we champion in Washington and outside the Beltway alike.

Incoming COL Chair (and Director of Library Journal’s 2017 Library of the Year in Nashville, TN) Kent Oliver will be joined by Georgia State Librarian (and COSLA Legislative Co-Chair) Julie Walker and Virginia Library Association Executive Director Lisa Varga. They’ll share their recent experiences in the ongoing Fight for Libraries! campaign for federal funding, and from decades of successful library advocacy in the “real world.” The program – which also will offer lots of audience “Q&A” opportunities – will be moderated by OGR Managing Director Adam Eisgrau.

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Washington Office at Annual 2017: Libraries #ReadytoCode

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The #ReadytoCode team is building off our Phase I project report to address some of the recommendations on support, resources and capacity school and public libraries need to get their libraries Ready to Code.

Are you tracking what’s going on with coding in libraries? OITP’s Libraries #ReadytoCode initiative is in full swing and if you haven’t heard, you can find out more in Chicago.

The Ready to Code team is building off our Phase I project report to address some of the recommendations on support, resources and capacity school and public libraries need to get their libraries Ready to Code.

Get Your Library #ReadytoCode (Sunday, June 25, 1-2:30 p.m.)
Get a taste of what we heard from the field and hear from librarians who have youth coding programs up and running in their libraries. Join us on Sunday, June 25 at 1 to 2:30. Play “Around the World” and talk with library staff from different backgrounds and experiences who will share the ups and downs and ins and outs of designing coding activities for youth. Table experts will cover topics like community and family engagement, analog coding, serving diverse youth, evaluating your coding programs and more!

Learn how to get started. Hear about favorite resources. Build computational thinking facilitation skills. Discuss issues of diversity and inclusion. Visit each table and get your #ReadytoCode passport stamped with one-of-a-kind stamps. Share your own examples for a bonus stamp.

Start your library’s coding club with Google’s CS First and other free resources (Saturday, June 24, 1 – 2:30 p.m.)
Interested in offering a computer science program at your library? Join a team from Google to learn about free resources to support librarians in facilitating activities for youth, including how to set up and run free CS First clubs, designed to help youth learn coding in fun and engaging ways through interest-based modules like story-telling, design, animation and more. Speakers include Hai Hong, program manager of CS Education; Nicky Rigg, program manager of CS Education; and Chris Busselle, program manager of CS First

Libraries as change agents in reducing implicit bias: Partnering with Google to support 21st Century skills for all youth (Saturday, June 24, 3 – 4 p.m.)
As our economy shifts, digital skills, computer science and computational thinking are becoming increasingly essential for economic and social mobility, yet access to these skills is not equitable. Join a team Hai Hong and Nicky Rigg from Google to learn about recent research to address implicit biases in education, and be ready to work as we discuss how libraries and Google can partner to increase the diversity of youth who are prepared to participate in the digital future.

Tech education in libraries: Google’s support for digital literacy and inclusion (Sunday, June 25, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.)
How can we better support our youth to participate in and benefit from the digital future? Join Google’s Connor Regan, associate product manager of Be Internet Awesome, and others from Google to learn about the range of free resources available to help librarians, families and communities to promote digital literacy and the safe use of the internet.


Want to know more? Follow the Libraries #ReadytoCode conference track on the Conference Scheduler and stock up on ideas to design awesome coding programs when you get back home!

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Washington Office at Annual 2017: Report from the swamp

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“We live in interesting times” has never been truer in the realm of national policy and libraries. There are a lot of headlines in the news, but what’s going on specifically with respect to library interests? How can we separate the wheat from the policy chaff? And what’s happening —or likely to happen—in the swamp that’s not widely reported?

Experts in the OITP session “Report from the swamp” at ALA Annual 2017 will share insights on national policy issues that matter to library professionals. Photo credit: eskipaper.com

Report from the swamp: Policy developments from Washington (Sunday, June 25, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.)

Come to this session to learn about what’s happening in Washington and what you and ALA can do about it. Experts will address diverse issues from net neutrality and the status of threatened federal agencies to E-rate, infrastructure, small business, health care and more. The session will point you toward resources from ALA and elsewhere to help you and your library patrons learn more about national policy issues—and some of these resources translate to the state and local contexts as well.

Beltway insider Ellen Satterwhite, a vice president with Glen Echo Group (and former staffer at the Federal Communications Commission), will provide her insights alongside OITP policy experts Larra Clark and Alan Inouye. Marc Gartler, chair of OITP’s Advisory Committee, will moderate.

We will also provide suggestions for action. You can make a difference, for example, by submitting comments on net neutrality to the Federal Communications Commission. We will explain how. And, of course, bring your questions!

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