The 2014 Wisconsin delegation (left to right): Kurt Kiefer, State Librarian and Assistant State Superintendent, Department of Public Instruction, Divison for Libraries & Technology, Madison; M. T. Boyle, Trustee, Burlington; Michael Slowinski, Library Media Technology Coordinator; Julie Schneider, UW-Madison Ebling Library (WLA Federal Legislative Advocate); Jennifer Zurawski, Library Media Instructional Technology Specialist, West De Pere School District; Martha Van Pelt, Director, South Central Library System, Madison; Gary Poulsen, Trustee, South Central Library System, Madison; Grant Lynch, Director, Waukesha Public Library.
With support from the Wisconsin Library Association and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, eight Wisconsin librarians from all over the state met with members of Congress from May 5–6, 2014, to discuss key library issues during the American Library Association’s 40th annual National Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C. Librarians and library supporters from Wisconsin joined several hundred of their colleagues in Washington to advocate for federal funding and supportive legislation on behalf of libraries. It was a full day for the eight attendees that represented public libraries, public library systems, school libraries, academic libraries, library trustees and state library administration in their visits with both state Senators and all eight Representatives.
During the briefings on May 5th, Senator Angus King (I-ME) jump-started the advocacy event by addressing library advocates at the Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel in Washington, D.C. Additional event speakers included Maine State Librarian Linda Lord; Gabriel Rottman, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union; Shawn Daugherty, assistant director of SPARC; and Peter Jaszi, professor of law at the American University Washington College of Law. After the briefings, ALA's United for Libraries' gave their Public Service Award, the highest honor for legislators who support library issues, to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) for their introduction of the USA Freedom Act.
During legislative meetings on May 6th, the Wisconsin contingency discussed the need to level-fund the Library Services and Technology Act, continue funding for the school library initiative Innovative Approaches to Literacy, reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, support the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act and recognize the growing importance of high-capacity broadband to Wisconsin libraries and schools by continuing to support the E-Rate program. We met with a number of engaged legislative aides and they seemed very interested in the issues that were impacting libraries.
Additional information may be obtained from the Wisconsin Federal Legislative Advocate:
Available as a PDF
Fund Library Programs:
- Provide funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) for FY15 at $180.9 million. These funds allow libraries to provide essential services to Wisconsin communities by supporting and promoting shared initiatives such as job search databases, expanded bandwidth, adult and early childhood literacy projects, assisting people with disabilities and more.
- Support funding for the Library of Congress at $593.1 million to maintain important current service levels and resources.
- Support funding for the Government Printing Office at $128.9 million to preserve public access to the resources of the Federal Digital System (FDSYS) and the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).
Access for All:
- Co-sponsor and support the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act of 2013 (FASTR) (S.350, H.R.708) which builds on the success of the NIH public access policy by increasing public access to federally funded research in an additional 11 federal agencies and departments.
- Co-sponsor and support the USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 3361/S. 1599) which would amend previous legislation by increasing transparency on surveillance orders and creating new restrictions on the bulk collection of citizen records. Support privacy and First Amendment principles as the House and Senate address other legislative proposals related to cybersecurity, data collection/retention and surveillance proposals. Library supporters seek to improve the balance between our civil liberties and the need of law enforcement to protect our country.
Elementary and Secondary Schools and Children:
- Support the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the inclusion of language for school libraries. Quality school libraries with state-certified school librarians are critical to student success. Wisconsin students will benefit from incorporating the following provisions:
- Maintain dedicated federal funding for school libraries;
- Include provisions under Title I state and local plans and the Race to the Top Fund to establish a state goal of having a school library staffed by a state-licensed school library in each public school; and,
- Allow state and local professional development funds to be used for recruiting and training school librarians.
- Restore funding for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program at $25 million for FY15 and ensure that at least half of these funds are allocated to competitive grants for underserved school libraries as required by law. This program is important because school libraries, and the librarians who work in them, are the primary source for digital literacy training as well as the related education that students from disadvantaged areas to gain the skills to function successfully in future careers and higher education in the digital age.
- Recognize the importance of developing early learning initiatives by specifically including libraries as eligible entities or partners in all federal early childhood education programs and initiatives.
Broadband and Telecommunications:
- Continue to support the E-rate program to ensure that public libraries and K-12 public and private schools have the high-capacity broadband needed to provide critical services to Wisconsin communities and students.
Libraries Role in Economic Future:
- Address reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) in the Senate (S. 1356) and require the inclusion of public libraries in state plans. It is imperative to include public library members on State and local workforce investment boards and to make libraries eligible for resources to assist the public with resume development, job bank web searches, literacy services, and workshops on career information.
Legislative Action Center
The Legislative Action Center (LAC) is ALA's pipeline to Capitol Hill. It features updates on all the important library-related legislation making its way through Congress. More importantly, it allows you to send an email or fax directly to your Members of Congress! Be sure to type in a personalized story or description about how the legislation you're writing about impacts your library. If you experience problems with or have questions about the LAC, please email Alston Roberts. And don't hesitate to pick up the phone, too! Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202.225.3121 to contact your Members of Congress.