Legislative Updates

The fight for library funding is on in the U.S. Senate

ALA District Dispatch -

The Fight for Libraries! has moved to the United States Senate. Today, two “Dear Appropriator” letters began circulating in the Senate, one seeking $186.6 million for Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the other $27 million for the Innovative Approaches to Libraries (IAL) program for FY 2018. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are again championing funds for LSTA, while Sens. Reed, Grassley (R-IA) and Stabenow (D-MI) are leading the fight for IAL. For more information about each program and the appropriations process, visit our previous posts on this topic or watch our most recent webinar.

Senators have until May 19 to let our champions know that they will sign the separate LSTA and IAL “Dear Appropriator” letters, so there’s no time to lose. Use ALA’s Legislative Action Center today to contact both of your Senators and ask them to support federal funding for libraries by signing on to both the Reed/Collins LSTA and Reed/Grassley/Stabenow IAL Dear Appropriator letters.

Many Senators will only sign if their constituents ask them to. Let them know why libraries are important to your community and ask them directly to show their support.

Last month, library advocates succeeded in convincing a record one-third of all Members of the House to sign the House versions of these LSTA and IAL letters. We need you to keep that momentum going by collectively convincing at least half of all Senators to do the same!

Given the President’s proposal to eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and virtually all other library funding sources, the support of both your Senators is more important than ever before. Five minutes of your time could help preserve over $210 million in library funding that’s at serious risk.

To take action, visit the Action Center for additional talking points and easy-to-send email templates.

Have a few more minutes to invest in the fight for library funding? Here are some fast and enormously helpful things you can do as well:

  1. Share your library’s federal funding story and support for LSTA and IAL on Twitter using the #SaveIMLS hashtag. Tell us how IMLS funding supports your local community through LSTA or other means. (If you aren’t sure which IMLS grants your library has received, you can check the searchable database available on the IMLS website.)
  2. Whether you tweet it or not, tell us your story so we can make sure that your Members of Congress know how federal library funding is working for them and their constituents at home.
  3. Sign up to receive our action alerts so we can let you know when and how to take action, and send you talking points and background information to make that easy, all through the year.
  4. Participate in Virtual Library Legislative Day starting on May 1 and sign up for our Thunderclap.

Thank you for your indispensable support. Together, we can win the Fight for Libraries!

The post The fight for library funding is on in the U.S. Senate appeared first on District Dispatch.

Build relationships to advance advocacy

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This advocacy guest post was written by Arizona’s Pima County Public Library Director Amber Mathewson, whose member of Congress, Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-3), led the recent effort to gather 144 signatures on a “Dear Appropriator” letter in support of LSTA funding. To highlight the important local uses of Federal LSTA funding, Rep. Grijalva held a press conference in front of the library at the El Pueblo Neighborhood Center during Congress’ spring recess.

A crowd gathered this week outside the El Pueblo Library in South Tucson where Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D) and other library advocates to discuss the possible effects of President Trump’s proposed budget cuts — including the elimination of the IMLS —on libraries in Arizona and nationwide. A statement by ALA Julie Todaro was read at the event, in which the American Library Association thanked Rep. Grijalva for his leadership in fighting for library funding.

A statement by ALA Julie Todaro was read at the event, in which the American Library Association thanked Rep. Grijalva for his leadership in fighting for library funding.

Manager of the El Pueblo Library Anna Sanchez was among those who spoke: “Public libraries play a significant role in maintaining and supporting our free democratic society. They are America’s great equalizers, providing everyone the same access to information and opportunities for success.”

At Pima County Public Library, across 26 locations and 9,200 square miles in Southern Arizona, we passionately embrace that role in all that we do. From innovative programming helping entrepreneurs launch their dreams to high-tech youth centers where young adults engage in life-long learning, the Library gives everyone — regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or economic status — a chance to thrive.

Sanchez added: “Libraries are truly the one place in America where the doors are open to everyone.”

Arizona’s Pima County Public Library Director Amber Mathewson, whose member of Congress, Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-3), led the recent effort to gather 144 signatures on a “Dear Appropriator” letter in support of LSTA funding.

While libraries nationwide form the cornerstone of our democratic society, they cannot afford to be complacent. As the current threat to funding demonstrates, it is critical that we dedicate ourselves to building relationships with elected officials. It is their votes that can drastically affect the future of libraries. In Southern Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District, we have a champion and steadfast ally in Congressman Grijalva. He recently secured 144 lawmakers’ signatures, across party lines, on a letter to Congress, urging against the cuts and requesting more than $186 million in funding for library programs. Last year, the letter was signed by 88 Representatives.

Grijalva has helped to preserve and defend libraries, elevating library service in the local, state and national arenas. We must build upon that support and expand relationships with other policymakers. Like Rep. Grijalva, they are the ones who will help ensure a future in which libraries are valued as pillars not only of our communities but of our nation.

Last year, as the President of the Arizona Library Association, I attended ALA’s 42nd Annual National Library Legislative Day. Alongside State Librarian Holly Henley, citizen advocate Teresa Quale, and Legislative Chair Kathy Husser, we spoke to all 11 Arizona staff representatives from the House and Senate. We highlighted STEM programming and workforce development, answered funding questions, discussed collaborations and made plans for onsite visits.

In-person meetings are immeasurably meaningful. They are vital if we wish lawmakers to view libraries and librarians as true changemakers. It is in those meetings where we are afforded the space to share the powerful stories of transformation that take place at our libraries every day.

Pima County Public Library is an active partner in the Arizona State Library Association and the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. These organizations are committed to our success and offer much to help us become our own best advocates.

Staff training provides tools to communicate effectively, while easy-to-use resources guide us in identifying and securing meetings with elected officials.

As a county-run system, the relationship we have with our Board of Supervisors is one of paramount importance. To be fully engaged in a library’s vision, one must see for themselves what the library makes possible.

We regularly invite supervisors to attend events and to visit their district libraries. The location of our Library Board Retreat, held annually, alternates between districts which help strengthen those relationships.

At Pima County Public Library, we believe it is our job to educate others so they can advocate on our behalf. The value we bring to our community is incalculable. Every day, we provide people with pathways to a better future. For many, we are a lifeline.

“Free and public libraries are a great tradition in this nation,” said Grijalva. Thankfully, he vows to continue fighting on our behalf. But it is up to us to make sure others — from lawmakers to board members, volunteers to citizen advocates — do, too.

As writer Caitlin Moran once said, “a library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft and a festival.” We have seen it in our libraries and on the faces of our customers whom we serve. Now is the time to make their stories heard and to ensure our future.

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Next CopyTalk webinar: The Durationator

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Join us for the next CopyTalk webinar: code + copyright = the Durationator.

Plan ahead! One hour CopyTalk webinars occur on the first Thursday of every month at 11 a.m. Pacific / 2 p.m. Eastern.

For the last decade, the Copyright Research Lab at Tulane University has been building the Durationator — a tool, helpdesk and resource for solving copyright questions. Designed to be used by libraries, archives, museums, artists and content owners (and everyone else!), the Durationator Copyright System combines complex legal research + code + human experts. The Durationator looks at every kind of cultural work (poems, films, books, photographs, art, sound recordings) in every country and territory of the world. It even covers state sound recordings! Elizabeth Townsend Gard will discuss what was learned during the ten-year development process. She will touch on basic information that is available for determining whether a work is under copyright or in the public domain, and how to think through copyright questions at the help desk.

Dr. Elizabeth Townsend Gard is an Associate Professor of Law and the Jill H. and Avram A. Glazer Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at Tulane University. She teaches intellectual property, art law, copyright and trademark law, advertising, property and law and entrepreneurship. Her research interests include fan fiction, the role of law in creativity in the content industries, and video games. She also fosters kittens, which makes Elizabeth an even more appealing speaker!


Date: Thursday, May 4, 2017

Time: 2:00 p.m. (Eastern) / 11:00 a.m. (Pacific)

Link: Go to http://ala.adobeconnect.com/copytalk/ and sign in as a guest. You’re in!

This program is brought to you by the Office for Information Technology Policy’s copyright education subcommittee. An archive of previous CopyTalk webinars is available.

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How to participate in #NLLD17 from home

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As library supporters from across the United States prepare to go to Washington, D.C. to participate in National Library Legislative Day, don’t forget that you can participate from home!

All week long (May 1-5th), we’re asking library supporters to email, call, and tweet their Members of Congress about federal library funding and other key library issues. Register now, and you will receive an email on May 1st reminding you to take action, along with a link to the livestream from National Library Legislative Day, so you can hear our keynote speaker and the issue briefings live.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU National Security Project, and the issue briefings will be provided by the staff of the ALA Washington Office. Check out our earlier post to see the full list of panels at National Library Legislative Day this year.

This year, we’re asking Congress to:

House: Save IMLS; Fully Fund LSTA & IAL
Senate: Sign LSTA & IAL “Dear Appropriator” Letters
House/Senate Reauthorize MLSA (incl. LSTA)

We’ll have talking points and background information available on the Action Center starting May 1st, to help you craft your message. You can use the event tag #NLLD17 to join in the conversation.

Looking for other ways to participate? Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr users can sign up to participate in our Thunderclap.

Questions? Email llindle@alawash.org

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ALA Announces Google Policy Fellow for 2017

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Alisa Holahan will serve as ALA’s 2017 Google Policy Fellow. Holahan is a candidate for the Master of Science in Information Science degree at the School of Information at the University of Texas, Austin. Previously, she completed her J.D. at the University of Texas Law School where she graduated with honors.

I am pleased to announce that Alisa Holahan will serve as ALA’s 2017 Google Policy Fellow. She will spend ten weeks in Washington, D.C. working on technology and internet policy issues through the library lens. As a Google Policy Fellow, Holahan will explore diverse areas of information policy, such as copyright law, information access for underserved populations, telecommunications policy, digital literacy, online privacy, the future of libraries and others. Google, Inc. pays the summer stipends for the fellows and the respective host organizations determine the fellows’ work agendas.

Holahan is a candidate for the Master of Science in Information Science degree at the School of Information at the University of Texas, Austin. Previously, she completed her J.D. at the University of Texas Law School where she graduated with honors and served as Associate Editor of the Texas Law Review. Holahan also completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas.

Since September 2015, Holahan has served as a Tarlton Fellow at the Tarlton Law Library at the University of Texas. She has interned twice in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Holahan is licensed to practice law in Texas.

ALA is pleased to participate once again in the Google Policy Fellowship program as it has from its 2007-8 inception. We look forward to working with Alisa Holahan on information policy topics that leverage her strong background and fight for library interests with the Trump Administration and U.S. Congress.

Find more information the Google Policy Fellowship Program.

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Reintroducing the ALA Washington Office Newsline

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There are many public resources about upcoming hearings, current legislation, news alerts, how to help, who to call… the information never stops. … the information never stops.

That’s why—in honor of National Library Week—we are announcing the reintroduction of the ALA Washington Office Newsline, a twice-weekly “vertical file” and email briefing, which we hope will help to make sense of what’s happening in D.C., specifically through the library lens. It will be published Monday and Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. (perfect lunch reading) and we hope it will be useful to you as a custom-fit “10,000-foot view” of what’s happening for libraries in D.C. Likewise, we know it will be a good line of communication as we move forward with the #SaveIMLS campaign.

What are the sources of the news?
Newspapers, RSS feeds, think tanks, government information resources, congressional schedules and websites, blogs (and occasionally Twitter!) as well as trade associations and news organizations. The Washington Office policy experts and lobbyists are reading, meeting with coalition partners, and gathering information inside and outside of D.C. and we want to be able to share it with you.

Are there criteria for the information that is included?
We are the look-out for a wide variety of sources and topics and aim for the content to be either immediately useful or good food for thought. Of course, we are attempting to collect a diversity of viewpoints from credible sources.

What topics can you expect to see covered?
Right now, both OGR and OITP are focused on the #SaveIMLS campaign and reauthorizing LSTA, but we are also keeping a pulse on broadband; copyright; coding and computational thinking; net neutrality; personal privacy; public access to government information; telecommunications resources; open access to research; and federal funding for school libraries and other library programs as well as how libraries help small businesses and veterans and create economic opportunity.

What else should you know about the Newsline?
While this biweekly newsletter will communicate to you what we are reading, watching, and thinking about… it is just one leg of the WO stool. We encourage you to stay tuned here to the District Dispatch (which will continue to provide deep dives and original reporting) and our Legislative Action Center (which you should sign up for right now).

Why should you subscribe to this resource?
If you want to be armed with usable information and help to solve the issues facing libraries, Newsline is essential reading. Also, we hope to keep the conversation going on social media, too, via the hashtag #ALAWO. If you see news we should include or have feedback you would like to share, post and tag.

Some of our “analog” Washington Office newsletters, dating back as far as 1947.

I am an ALA Washington Office history nerd… what do you mean by reintroducing?
This is actually the third generation of the Newsline, and one of many Washington Office newsletters dating back to 1947. The first was published from 1983 through 1991 and the second generation was published from 1992 through 2007.

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Panels announced for National Library Legislative Day 2017

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There are just 20 days until National Library Legislative Day, and the speaker lineup is our best yet! You’ve likely already heard that Hina Shamshi from the ACLU will be joining us as our keynote speaker. Now check out some of the other panels we have planned:

The Political Dance

  • Jennifer Manley
    Managing Director, Prime Strategies NYC
  • Christian Zabriskie,
    Executive Director, Urban Librarians Unite; Branch Administrator, Yonkers Public Library

At times government relations feels like a complicated tango filled with intricate footwork and precise timing. This conversation between political activist Christian Zabriskie and Government Relations and Communications Consultant Jennifer Manley will cover a huge range of topics including navigating the new abnormal in Washington, being unafraid to play the game, and how to leverage the press and social channels for your government relations efforts. Buckle up, it’s gonna be a fast talking roller coaster of wonky fun.

Speaking Truth to Power (and Actually Being Heard!)

  • Brian Jones – Partner, Black Rock Group
  • Tina Pelkey – Senior Vice President, Black Rock Group

William Carlos Williams was a poet, not a lobbyist, but he was on to something when he said: “It is not what you say that matters but the manner in which you say it; there lies the secret of the ages.” Well, we’re not sure about that secret to the ages part, but we guarantee that speaking “truth to power” is a whole lot easier and ultimately successful when you speak Power’s language. Learn how to – and how not to – make libraries’ best case when you “hit the Hill” on May 2nd after you get home.

Libraries Ready to Code

  • Marijke Visser – Associate Director, Office for Information Technology Policy
  • Other speakers TBD

Come to this program to learn about the great promise of coding in libraries. Programs in libraries bring opportunity to youth to learn about and develop skills not only in coding, but also in the broader computational thinking behind coding. For advocacy, the story of library-based coding programs positions libraries as key institutions to prepare youth to consider and pursue STEM and many other careers based on computing and tech.

Democracy dies in darkness: helping editorial boards shed light on issues facing your community

  • Molly Roberts – Digital Producer for Opinions, The Washington Post
  • Gina Millsap – Chief Executive Officer, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (KS)

The Washington Post’s new motto echoes a truth librarians live by: an informed citizenry is necessary for democracy to thrive. What does that mean for the collective opinion voice of a major news outlet? How can library professionals help shed light on community issues for editorial boards? Learn how editorial boards take positions and why librarians need to be at the discussion table.

Interested in taking part in National Library Legislative Day, but unable to come to D.C. yourself? Register to participate digitally, and sign up for our Thunderclap.

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Copyright First Responders webinar now available

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Celebrating National Library Week by introducing our new fair use coasters! Each one describes one of the factors of fair use. (We think copyright education should be fun.) Collect all four at ALA’s Annual conference this summer.

If you missed last week’s CopyTalk “Copyright First Responders” webinar, it’s alright – we have an archived copy!

Kyle Courtney of Harvard University’s Office for Scholarly Communication talked about the development of a decentralized model of copyright expertise in an academic setting — the Copyright First Responders (CFR) program. We know that copyright guidance is needed more now than ever before, and it is impossible for one lone copyright specialist or scholarly communications librarian to reach every academic department. The CFR program starts with a subject specialist and then adds on copyright expertise through a rigorous training model developed by Kyle. After taking the course, the subject specialist is ready to address the more basic queries of their department faculty. The more difficult questions are forwarded on to the more experienced level of CRPs and if necessary, then on to Kyle himself.

Hey, why shouldn’t every librarian have a bit of merriment with copyright! Listen to Kyle’s engaging talk about CFR. It may take off soon across the United States. One important lesson: make it fun!

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Congress is in recess, make it count

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National Library Week is the perfect time to make sure that your congressional representative in the House and both U.S. senators know you want them to fight for full federal library funding for fiscal year 2018. They are now home for two full weeks for their spring recess, so you have ample opportunity to make that point loudly, clearly and in as a many places as you can.

2017 Congressional Calendar (Source: The Hill)

Right now is prime time to Fight for Libraries! and against the President’s proposal to eliminate IMLS and efforts in Congress to slash virtually all federal library funding.

First, don’t worry about intruding on your representative’s and senators’ schedule. Congress may be in “recess,” but these breaks from Washington are officially known as “district work periods,” so their days (and nights) are filled with meetings with constituents like you, as well as visits to schools, companies and – yes – potentially libraries back home.

Second, get on their schedules. Call their office nearest you (here’s a handy directory) and ask to meet with your member of Congress and Senators (or their senior staff) during the work period so you – and perhaps three or four other library supporters or patrons (for example, a business owner, social worker, clergy person, soccer mom or dad or any other fans of libraries) – can ask them to oppose eliminating IMLS and support full funding for library programs like LSTA and Innovative Approaches to Literacy in FY 2018. You can find all the background info you need and talking points at Fight for Libraries!

Third, make some noise. Odds are your members of Congress will be hosting at least one Town Hall meeting during the recess. Go! Tell them: 1) how important federal funding is to your local library (an example of how LSTA money gets used would be ideal, but not essential); and 2) that you want them to oppose eliminating IMLS and any cuts in the already very modest funding libraries receive from the federal government. (States get a total of just over $150 million annually under LSTA and IAL receives just $27 million, half of which is dedicated to school libraries.)

Fourth, and really importantly, if you run a library system or library branch contact your members’ local offices and invite your Representative and both Senators to visit your library where you can show them first-hand the incredible things that a 21st century library does for their constituents. Even if that means you can’t deliver any messages that specifically relate to legislation or library funding while you’re “on duty,” it will be enormously valuable to inform your representative’s and senators’ understanding of what a library is and does and how vital their local libraries are to hundreds of thousands of voters in their communities. Hosting a visit and giving a tour is not lobbying and isn’t barred by any laws anywhere.

Finally, whatever contacts you arrange with your members of Congress and their staffs, remember to email them afterwards with a reminder of what you asked for or discussed and, most importantly, to thank them for their time and support. Civility isn’t dead and will help ensure that your efforts pay off in the end.

That’s all there is to it. Drop us a line at the ALA Office of Government Relations if you need any help or to let us know how your meeting or library visit went.

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Register your DMCA agent by December 2017

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TheDigital Millennial Copyright Act instituted the “notice and takedown” rule to protect online service providers — in our case, libraries, universities and schools — who provide public access computers from infringement by third parties if online service providers supply the name and contact information of a designated agent to receive claims of copyright infringement. For more details on this law and regulation see: copyright.gov/dmca-directory

The U.S. Copyright Office asks that online service providers register or re-register an agent to create an up-to-date online directory of agents that rights holders can contact. Libraries and educational institutions who provide open access computers and/or wifi should designate a person who will receive these notices. This person may be the head of the school district, director of the library, personnel from the IT department, legal counsel or other designated staff.

The registration process is straightforward and must be done to benefit from the safe harbor established in Section 512 of the copyright law.

Complete a registration form at dmca.copyright.gov/osp/login.html and provide contact information. Maintain the currency and accuracy of the information, updating it as necessary. Pay a $6 dollar fee.

Registrations must be submitted by December 31, 2017. A new registration process will open every three years.

More Resources

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“Lead-off” advocacy home run ignites FY 2018 library funding rally!

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If you’ve been to this page in the last few weeks, you know that the President has proposed wiping out all library funding – and the agency that administers much of it (IMLS) – in his initial FY 2018 budget proposal. You also know that thousands of librarians, library supporters, users, vendors and just plain folk in literally every Congressional district in the country used the ALA Legislative Action Center and many other channels to insist that their Representative in the House sign two “Dear Appropriator” letters to the Appropriations Committee asking them to preserve funding this year for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy program.

Well, you hit it out of the park at our first at bat of the FY 2018 appropriations lobbying season. One-third of the entire House of Representatives, from both parties, signed each of those Dear Appropriator letters and nearly 170 Members signed at least one! That’s a nearly 18% increase in support for IAL and a record-shattering 64% increase for LSTA! Now we’ve absolutely got to keep the rally you started going … and going … and going all through this calendar year. But, just like in baseball, it’s one at bat and one inning at a time. And if we’re lucky we’ll even get a welcome seventh inning stretch this summer!

Source: http://gamerlimit.com/how-to-bet-on-baseball/

Later in April, it’ll be both of your US Senators’ turns to hear how much you want them to save IMLS and to keep the budget axe well away from LSTA and IAL funding for FY 2018. While our champions in the Senate warm up before delivering their own Dear Appropriator pitches, however, you can help load the bases now by driving this line to your Member of the House and both your Senators: “Please save IMLS and fight for full FY 2018 LSTA and IAL funding this year.”

Please, click now and then stay loose while keeping an ear out here for a loud “batter up!” That’ll be the signal to knock our Senate LSTA and IAL Dear Appropriator letter signature totals out of the park . . . again. Check this Senate tracker to see if your Senator signed last year and stay tuned for updates on who is signing this year.

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Library advocates make the local editorial pages

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In response to President Trump’s proposed federal budget cuts, library professionals and supporters have sent a clear message to members of Congress and in their local editorial pages. While the proposed elimination of IMLS and deep funding cuts for libraries is not news to us, many (if not most!) people in our communities are ignorant of this potentially devastating and imminent threat to our nation’s libraries.

Image from SequimGazette.com

Library professionals are trusted leaders in their communities as well as experts in the library. It is more important than ever for librarians to use their respected status to influence public opinion on a broader scale. To inspire all of us to speak out in our local media – especially during National Library Week, which kicks off on Sunday – we’re highlighting just a few of the many letters to the editor in support of library funding that have been published over the past couple of weeks:

Proposed budget would hurt libraries,” The Salem (MA) News 
One strength to highlight about this letter, written by Teen and Reference Librarian Anna Tschetter, is her specific reference to how individual citizens will be affected by cuts: “local governments would have to bear the burden of coming up with the funds, or voters would lose access to critical services like job training, early literacy programs, homework help and free access to digital tools that many of us cannot afford at home.” The examples she uses include workforce training and digital tools – both of which are particularly compelling to Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle because of their direct link to the economy. In addition, she issues a call to action by asking her “members of Congress to show their support by ensuring that IMLS is not defunded.”

Support libraries,” The Daily Courier (Prescott, AZ)
Anthony Zades’ letter mentions his members of Congress by name: “I agree with the American Library Association (ALA) who calls this action ‘counterproductive and short-sighted.’ I hope that Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, as well as Representative Paul Gosar will also agree with the ALA and me.” The fact that he uses their names is significant because communications staff in congressional offices scan news clips for specific mentions of the congressperson’s name – so we can be 95% sure that staff for Rep. Flake and Senators McCain and Flake actually saw Anthony’s letter the very same day it was published. (It’s a plus that Anthony mentions ALA by name as well!)

Voice support for IMLS funding,” The News-Courier (Athens, AL)
Past President of the Alabama Library Association Paula Laurita uses language that gets at the bottom line for budget-conscious members of Congress when she writes that “Libraries… deliver one of the best returns on investment for tax dollars.” In addition, Paula includes a brief yet powerful anecdote that exemplifies this point: “One such person had just left an abusive marriage. She enrolled in her library’s computer classes, resume class, and interview skills class. With her new knowledge she was able to find full-time employment. She was able to leave public assistance and support herself and her children. This wouldn’t have been possible without a grant made possible through IMLS.”

Preserve IMLS,” Moscow-Pullman (WA) Daily News 
In a letter penned by Whitman County Library Director Kristie Kirkpatrick, she demonstrates the success of her library system by including local statistics: “Last year, attendance at Whitman County Library classes and programs reached an all-time high of 39,000.” Kristie’s letter, like Paula’s, appeals to the common sense in local taxpayers’ prioritizing libraries: “You won’t see a better return on your investment than tax support for libraries… IMLS funds stretch our local dollars.”

Keep up the great work, and please let us know if you get published. ALA Washington Office staff often share local media coverage of libraries when they go on Hill visits, and absolutely nothing is more persuasive to members of Congress and their staff than voices from back home. What’s more, you can amplify your own message by sending a link to your published letter in a personal email to your members of Congress.

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Appropriations webinar announced for National Library Week

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Appropriations, Budgets, and Continuing Resolutions: what you need to know about the Congressional Appropriations Process

Confused about the $1 trillion Federal Appropriations process? Does talk of the FY 17 budget, FY 18 budget, the President’s “Skinny” budget, Continuing Resolutions and Omnibus budgeting leave you a tad confused? You are not alone!

Aissa Canchola of the Penn Hill Group

To help answer some of these questions, ALA is hosting a webinar on April 13, 2017, 2:30pm eastern to provide an overview of the Federal budget and appropriations process, its impact on libraries throughout the country and the importance of front line advocacy efforts on behalf of libraries.

Join the ALA Washington Office Appropriations expert Kevin Maher and the Penn Hill lobbying group’s Aissa Canchola for an hour-long discussion of the ABCs of the budget process in Washington. These budget experts will help explain how Congress can be working on last year’s budget AND this year’s budget at the same time, what the President’s proposal to eliminate the Institute for Museum and Library Services could mean for more than $213 million in federal library funding and how Congress is expected to proceed in the coming weeks and months.

The stakes are high this year and all federal library funding is on the chopping block after the President effectively proposed eliminating these important programs. Your calls, emails, tweets to Members of the House of Representatives in support of the annual “Dear Appropriator” letters for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program proved highly successful this year, but we’re only at the start of a year-long FY 2018 appropriations. What’s next on the funding front?

You will walk away from this session with a clearer idea of how Congress’ budget and appropriations machine works and, perhaps most importantly, how YOU can get involved in saving critical library funding for LSTA and IAL.

Here is your chance to hear from the experts and ask questions of how it all works (or doesn’t). No registration is required – just join us on YouTube on April 13, 2017 at 2:30pm eastern and use the #SaveIMLS to ask a question.

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2017 WHCLIST award winner announced

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This week, the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office announced that Lori Rivas of Newhall, CA is the winner of the 2017 White House Conference on Library and Information Services (WHCLIST) Award. Given to a non-librarian participant attending National Library Legislative Day, the award covers hotel fees and includes $300 stipend to defray the cost of attending the event.

2017 WHCLIST winner Lori Rivas.

A lifelong library user, Rivas has spent the last seven years advocating for her library. This passion for libraries grew out of many years of library use:

“For 20 years, I homeschooled my children, depending on public library resources and programming. In 2010, our city, Santa Clarita, CA, proposed contracting with a private company for the management of our public libraries. All my momma bear energy and activism juices were galvanized into the fight to keep our local public libraries truly public.”

In response to this proposed contract, Rivas helped to organize a campaign that gained national attention. She secured a private audience with Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich and CA State Senator Bob Huff (R-29th District), and was interviewed by the Washington Post. Later advocacy efforts led her to testify before the California State Governance and Finance Committee for the passage of AB438. She has campaigned for library services during local elections, written to local media, and undertaken many other tasks in support of libraries. Her advocacy work eventually led her to become a library consultant for the Southern California Library Cooperative (SCLC), where among other projects she helped convert LSTA grants into work plans and timetables, ensuring the successful implementation of LSTA grants and giving her insight into the importance of LSTA funding.

Looking toward the future, Rivas hopes to pursue her MLIS, to better combine her interests: “education, activism, public service, government work, writing, and advocating for the disenfranchised.”

The White House Conference on Library and Information Services—an effective force for library advocacy nationally, statewide and locally—transferred its assets to the ALA Washington Office in 1991 after the last White House conference. These funds allow ALA to participate in fostering a spirit of committed, passionate library support in a new generation of library advocates. Leading up to National Library Legislative Day each year, the ALA seeks nominations for the award. Representatives of WHCLIST and the ALA Washington office choose the recipient.

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Reminder: next CopyTalk this Thursday

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Don’t forget to join us this Thursday, April 6th, for a CopyTalk webinar with Kyle K. Courtney, Copyright Advisor at Harvard University. Kyle will be discussing his innovative copyright service model starting at 2 p.m Eastern.

From Lotus Head

Kyle Courtney of Harvard University’s Office for Scholarly Communication describes how library patrons, faculty, students and staff need more guidance than ever on copyright matters on issues such as fair use, open access, MOOCs, repositories and digitization. These questions are arriving at the library with greater frequency and Kyle believes a modern, 21st century library should be equipped to answer such questions.

The Copyright First Responders (CFR) program has developed the first decentralized model of copyright expertise in an academic setting, relying on a hub-and-spoke model to answer questions from the communities associated with certain libraries. The librarians — each with their own focus, specialty, degrees and training — are in the best position to be trained to answer copyright questions from their respective communities. Therefore, copyright training should be layered on top of that subject expertise and result in a systemic shift in copyright knowledge thought the academic setting – the library becomes the focus of copyright inquiry and policy. The presentation will reveal the examine the types of copyright questions received, note the thematic uniformity of large copyright questions, present success metrics on questions answered, lessons learned, and share best practices in creating a CFR program.

Day: Join us Thursday, April 6, for an hour-long free webinar
Time: 2 p.m. Eastern / 11 a.m. Pacific
Link: Go to ala.adobeconnect.com/copytalk and sign in as a guest. You’re in!

This program is brought to you by OITP’s copyright education subcommittee. An archive of previous webinars is available.

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Decision makers: libraries are ready to code

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Released today, ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy latest brief explores how libraries are increasingly offer programs in coding and computational thinking and are poised to do much more.

Computing jobs represent the largest source of new jobs and are among the highest paying, yet hundreds of thousands of openings go unfilled. And such employment needs are projected to continue growing in the coming years. Libraries are part of the solution in preparing more of America’s youth for these jobs

Libraries are ideal venues to provide career opportunities for youth in the digital age, explains a newly-released brief from the American Library Association (ALA). In “Careers for America’s Youth in the Digital Age: <libraries / ready to code>,” libraries are found to increasingly offer programs in coding and computational thinking—the broader intellectual skills behind coding—and are poised to do much more.

The brief is being released at the #HouseOfCode demo, panel and reception event on Capitol Hill on April 3-4. Nearly 100 students from over 50 Congressional districts will participate to demo their winning apps from the 2016 Congressional App Challenge. ALA is a sponsor of this event and we will have an exhibitor table and strong representation including our coding policy extraordinaire Marijke Visser as well as Shawnda Hines and Emily Wagner of the ALA Washington Office.

“Careers for America’s Youth in the Digital Age: <libraries / ready to code>,” discusses how libraries stimulate youth awareness in coding, serve as innovation labs to develop coding skills and leverage their national reach to encourage youth engagement from groups under-represented in tech careers. Perspectives from industry leaders such as Michael Petricone of the Consumer Technology Association (and a member of ALA’s Public Policy Advisory Council) and Mo-Yun Lei Fong of Google are included in the brief.

This brief is the sixth one in a new series targeted to national decision makers and influencers. ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy gratefully acknowledges the guidance and financial support of ALA President Julie Todaro for the establishment of this series. The previously published briefs are:

Libraries Help and Honor Our Veterans: Employment, Education and Community Connection
One Small Business at a Time: Building Entrepreneurial Opportunity in America’s Communities
The Manufacturing Sector & The Knowledge Economy: Expanding Opportunity through Libraries
Digital Empowerment and America’s Libraries
From Baby’s First Words: Libraries Promote Early Learning.

Additional briefs will be released in the coming months.

As always, we look forward to feedback. In particular, we seek to learn about compelling library programs on these topics or ideas on new topics for which briefs should be produced. Though motivated for use at the national level, much of the content and argument is applicable at the state and local levels and so we are interested in any such adaptations of this material. Let us know!

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How libraries can respond to the repeal of the FCC privacy rules

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This blog is cross-posted from the Intellectual Freedom Blog, written by the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association.

This week Congress, voting along party lines, passed a resolution that repealed the groundbreaking privacy rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission last October under the Obama administration. The new rules would have required ISPs to adopt fair information privacy practices in regards to their customers’ data, including a requirement that the ISP obtain affirmative “opt-in” consent from their customers before using, sharing or selling sensitive information, including geo-location information, financial information, health information, children’s information, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history and the content of communications. In addition, the rules would have imposed data breach notification requirements and required ISPs to adopt reasonable data security measures.

If the privacy rules had been left alone, they would have gone into effect at the end of this year. But because of the way the new resolution was written, the FCC will likely be barred from writing any similar rules in the future. And the Federal Trade Commission, which otherwise has broad authority to regulate unfair and deceptive business practices like inadequate privacy protections or deceptive privacy policies, is likely barred from regulating ISPs, which are classified as telecommunication common carriers only subject to FCC regulation. Thus, those Congressional representatives voting to roll back the FCC privacy rules have likely skewed the privacy playing field in favor of the ISPs for a long time to come.

This means service providers like Verizon are free to install apps like AppFlash, a new Android app launcher and search tool designed to collect information like a user’s mobile number, device identifier, device type and operating system, location information, installed apps, and contacts and share that information with advertisers without the customer’s consent.

How can libraries respond to the rollback of the FCC privacy rules? Start with the Library Privacy Guidelines and the accompanying Library Privacy Checklists, which outline the steps libraries should take to protect users’ data and provide a secure online experience in the library.

More specific steps libraries can take to protect themselves and help users protect themselves from data collection by ISPs include:

  • Participating in the movement to encrypt all web traffic by moving library websites and services to HTTPS, a protocol which prevents intermediaries like ISPs from eavesdropping. ALA is a sponsor of the Let’s Encrypt initiative which provides free and easy to install certificates for HTTPS websites.
  • Negotiating contracts with ISPs that forbid the collection of browser history and other activity data of Internet users in the library.
  • Providing anonymous Internet access in library using the Tor browser or similar technologies.
  • Teaching users to protect themselves from online surveillance by using technologies such as public proxies, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) services, and anonymity networks such as Tor, as well as educating and encouraging patrons to exercise their ability to opt-out of behavioral tracking, adopt do-not-track tools, and employ encryption technologies. San Jose Public Library’s Virtual Privacy Lab provides one model for providing patrons with the information they need to protect their privacy.

For those who are interested in learning more about these tools and tactics, the Office for Intellectual Freedom and the IFC Privacy Subcommittee are sponsoring a webinar on Practical Privacy Practices for Choose Privacy Week on Thursday, April 13 at 2:00 PM Eastern/1:00 PM Central/12 Noon Mountain/11:00 AM Pacific. The webinar will provide information on how to configure and manage your integrated library system to preserve patron privacy, how to install free HTTPS certificates on your websites using the Let’s Encrypt services, and how to provide anonymous web browsing using TOR and other tools.

Finally, advocacy on behalf of data privacy, transparency, and customer choice is always an option. Minnesota and Illinois have already introduced legislation that would require ISPs providing services in those states to abide by a set of rules comparable to the FCC privacy rules repealed by Congress. While the FCC may be barred from adopting new privacy rules, Congress itself can propose and adopt a privacy regime that will protect individuals’ data. Librarians and patrons alike can let their elected officials know that they support laws that protect individuals’ online privacy.

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Top 10 things to know (and do) about saving library funding

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The talk of Washington and the library community (when people aren’t talking about the President’s tweets, anyway) is the recent recommendation by the President to completely eliminate funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), including their library funding implementing the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program within the Department of Education. Here are the top ten things that you need to know about saving IMLS and more than $210 million in annual federal library funding that will be going on all year.

10. Exactly how much money are we talking about?

LSTA received $183.4 million in FY 2016 while IAL received $27 million. These funding levels are essentially the same for FY 2017 as the year before because Congress failed to enact almost any of the twelve individual appropriations bills that fund specific parts of the federal government and is keeping the governments doors open under a series of temporary authorizations called Continuing Resolutions, or “CRs” in Beltway-speak. Under the terms of a CR, programs are funded at the previous year’s levels (though this year the CR includes a de minimus across the board cut of less than 0.5%). If Congress returns from its upcoming April recess on April 24 and figures out how to pass 11 of the 12 unfinished FY 2017 appropriations bills in less than a week, funding levels for FY 2018 could change. However, that narrow window for Congressional action makes another CR running through the end of the current fiscal year (September 30, 2017) vastly more likely.

9. Why this doesn’t matter:

Congress almost always treats the President’s budget submission, which has no force of law, as “DOA.” As noted above, to actually fund the government, Congress is supposed to pass 12 separate appropriations bills. While that process can be messy and protracted, the key thing is that it’s controlled by the Appropriations Committees of the House and Senate which are free to ignore the President (and often do). Many Members of Congress and their staffs tell us that they are not giving serious consideration to the President’s “skinny budget.” So what’s all the fuss about?!?

8. Why this DOES matter:

The Republican party is now in control of both chambers of Congress and the Administration. As you may have seen during last week’s debacle surrounding efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Republicans (at least in the House) are hardly a unified party. However, there are a significant number of conservatives in Congress that would love to deconstruct much of the Federal government and are looking for programs, such as LSTA and IAL, to “zero out.” While libraries have strong allies on Capitol Hill, the President’s request provides ‘red meat’ to others and likely signals that this battle will continue beyond the current fight for FY 2018 funding for the duration of the Administration.

7. What is LSTA and the Grants to States program?

Of the $183.4 million last appropriated by Congress for LSTA, $155 million is dedicated to the Grants to State program. By law, every state gets a portion of that sum per a population-based formula (and subject to a 34% state matching requirement.) Each state librarian or library agency then determines the best use of those funds in their state. In some states, the funds go for the development and maintenance of statewide lending, shared databases, or other state-wide tools. In others, funding is provided for specific programs to, for example: assist veterans transitioning to civilian life, help small businesses to develop an on-line presence, underwrite summer reading programs, foster programs for families with disabled children or even help a small library replace part of their collection lost in a flood. Note: because states are required to match 34% of the Federal funding commitment, a cut on the Federal level necessarily means a cut in state library funding too.

6. What is the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program and why are we talking about it separately from IMLS and LSTA?

IAL grants, which are awarded by the Department of Education rather than IMLS, are the only dedicated source of Federal funding for school libraries and are not part of what was approved by Congress under the LSTA. School libraries can use IAL grant funds received to buy books and other materials in support of early literacy efforts directed to the nation’s neediest children. Of the $27 million appropriated for the program overall, at least half is reserved exclusively for school libraries while the remainder goes to non-profits (which may partner with libraries). Individual schools or school districts apply every two years for funding to the Department of Education. Awards typically go to schools for book distribution, literacy-technology tools and literacy training for teachers and families.

5. What is the ALA Washington Office doing to save IMLS and library funding?

The Washington Office is working early, late and every minute in between to ensure that no stone is left unturned and to keep IMLS, LSTA, IAL and other library funds from being eliminated in FY 2018. As we do every year, the Office of Government Relations’ staff regularly lobbies directly for library funding to Congressional offices individually and/or with multiple coalitions. (Coalitions allow ALA to share information with peers in Washington and amplify our message.)

This year, however, we are working even more closely with ALA leadership and the Association’s state Chapters to “raise the heat” on every Member of Congress to tangibly – not just broadly or rhetorically – support libraries. Specifically, at OGR’s request, ALA President Julie Todaro has conducted hour-long “call to arms” conference calls with all ALA Division Presidents, Executive Directors, caucus leaders, the Executive Board and all 51 Chapter Presidents to brief them on the current threats to library funding and how they can help mobilize library supporters to save IMLS and library funding.

At President Todaro’s request, we have even built a new one-stop-shopping webpage called “Fight for Libraries!” where library advocates can quickly contact Congress, sign up for alerts, share their own stories of what LSTA and IAL have meant in their libraries and communities, learn how to write a quick letter to the Editor of a local paper and access a wealth of other advocacy resources.

We are also coordinating closely, as always, with the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies and have – with special and invaluable help from Cengage Learning, Inc. – launched a new pro-library business coalition called “Libraries Mean Business” to help make libraries’ profound value to society and the economy clear to all Representatives and Senators.

IMPORTANT: All of these efforts are focused for starters on first getting as many Members of the House of Representatives – and soon thereafter as many Senators as possible – to sign two incredibly important letters, one supporting funds for LSTA and the other IAL, that will be delivered to their colleagues on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. The number of Members of Congress who sign these two “Dear Appropriator” letters can spell the difference between LSTA and IAL being eliminated or left unscathed by the budget ax!

4. Why are the Dear Appropriator letters so important?

Every year, ALA makes a strong push in March/April to ALA members to urge Representatives and Senators to sign the letters in support of LSTA and IAL (two letters in each chamber). The more signatures these letters gain—and the more bi-partisan— the stronger the message to the Appropriations Committees that these programs have wide support. A powerful Senator or Representative will ask the staff to find a program to cut to benefit their favored program. Staff has been known—off the record of course—to look at how many signatures in support various programs have garnered. Cutting a program with 15 signatures means fewer upset members than axing a program backed by 75 or 100 Members of Congress. It’s that simple.

3. Are the letters more important than ever this year?

YES! YES! YES! Need we say more? OK, we will. The President has sent a message to Congress that LSTA and IAL are not important, but we and our members know just how vital these funds and programs are. With so many programs on the chopping block, supporters of programs of all kinds are trying to ward off cuts with as many signatures as they can on their own letters. We have to win that competition. The letters for LSTA and IAL have always received solid support, but in the face of especially stiff headwinds, we need to double the number of LSTA and IAL Dear Appropriator signers that we most recently received.

2. So, specifically what can ALA members and other library lovers do to save LSTA and IAL?

Whether you can spare 5 minutes or 5 hours to help save $210+ million, here’s how you can get involved…today:

1. The #1 thing you need to know about the fight to save LSTA and IAL funding?

It will not succeed without you – and the friends, colleagues, neighbors, patrons, customers, relatives and complete strangers that you actively recruit – getting involved TODAY and staying involved all through 2017. Without that sustained commitment on a scale that we have never achieved before, we will not succeed at a cost much greater than money to the hundreds of millions of people and businesses who depend on libraries.

Don’t let them down. Act now!

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She is our rock star

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Dr. Carla Hayden speaking to more than 3,000 librarians the 2017 Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) conference in Baltimore.

The grand finale to the informative (and well-attended) 2017 Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) conference was the closing keynote address by Dr. Carla Hayden. Dr. Hayden arrived 45 minutes early to individually greet librarians queued in the aisles with smart phones in hand for a photo with the Librarian of Congress. For the more than 3,000 librarians in attendance, Hayden’s comments about her plans to make the Library of Congress “America’s Library,” to greatly increase access to the treasures of the Library and to open the Library on Sundays (gasp!) struck a chord. One excited librarian said: “She is our rock star.” Yes, she is.

Already a cultural hero for keeping the Enoch Pratt Free Library branch open to the public during the Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore, for standing up to U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft and the surveillance provisions of the USA Patriot Act and for mentoring scores of librarians throughout her career, Dr. Hayden’s humility shone through when she talked about her decision to serve as the Librarian of Congress. It was not an easy decision. She wondered if she could affect change in the lives of people every day, like she felt she could as a librarian. She wanted to maintain her public spirit in this new role and not be just a figure head who raised funds and attended posh dinners. She wanted to serve.

Hayden accepted her appointment with the goal to increase access to the Library’s collections across the nation through digitization and by making the Library more public facing. You still won’t be able to borrow books, but you will soon see the some of the largest collection of comic books at Comic Con because the Library will be there. Accessibility to the National Library Service for the Blind and Handicapped will greatly increase access for people with disabilities. The Library will be a service hub to the Digital Public Library of America. And yes, the Library will open for storytelling.

Dr. Hayden encouraged the audience to revel in the public’s perception of librarians as trustworthy in the era of fake news. She repeated a conversation she had with a library patron who said that at present, “librarians are having a moment.” Whether you call it cyber hygiene or information literacy, librarians are having a moment to make the world a better place

During the Q-and-A session, a retired librarian who attended the first ACRL conference in 1978 and many thereafter said Dr. Hayden was the liveliest speaker that ACRL has ever had and that her presence was inspirational and invigorating. It was that kind of closing session—smiles, laughter, a couple of standing ovations and a group of librarians dancing on the stage as the audience left the auditorium.

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The next move for net neutrality

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Threats to net neutrality continue to be a serious concern for libraries, concurrent with the extraordinary pressures around the Institute of Museum and Library Services, created by the President’s Budget Blueprint. (For more on the FY 2018 appropriations process, please go to Fight for Libraries!, a new advocacy portal.) Today, however, the American Library Association (ALA) and the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) made our next move to defend the hard-won Open Internet Order adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Rielly, ALA and ACRL – joined by eight other higher education and library organizations – articulated net neutrality principles that should form the basis of any review of the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order. The letter was also hand-delivered by ALA’s Office of Government Relations today to the leaders of Congress’ Commerce Committees in both the Senate (Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Bill Nelson (D-FL)) and the House (Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR-2) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6)), and shared with other key Members of Congress.

This week’s letter follows hard on the heels of a broader but similar letter sent on March 7 to Chairman Pai and his colleagues, signed by ALA and 170 other organizations.

In a news release regarding our most recent communication to the Commission, ALA President Julie Todaro stated:

“America’s libraries collect, create, curate, and disseminate essential information to the public over the Internet, and enable our users to build and distribute their own digital content and applications. Network neutrality is essential to ensuring open and nondiscriminatory access to information for all. The American Library Association is proud to stand with other education and learning organizations in outlining core principles for preserving the open Internet as a vital platform for free speech, innovation, and civic engagement.”

ACRL President Irene Herold affirmed:

“In the modern era, the Internet is the primary open platform for information exchange, intellectual discourse, research, civic engagement, teaching, and learning. College and university libraries are prolific providers and users of content, services and applications in which a privileged—or non-neutral—Internet would create a significant detrimental barrier. Having this innovative content openly available upholds our values of academic freedom and serves the public interest and common good.”

We appreciate the engagement of ALA and ACRL members on this issue. We will need even stronger interest and support in the coming weeks. Hope to see you at National Library Legislative Day.

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