Alison Ricker, Oberlin College
Two ALAO representatives, Alison Ricker and Stephanie Bange, joined the Ohio contingent at ALA’s National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) this year. We thank ALAO for supporting each of us with a Legislative Advocate Travel Award.
The Ohio group included 11 individuals representing school, public, and academic libraries, plus INFOhio and the State Library, and a wide distribution around the state. Over 350 participants took part from around the nation. William Morris of the State Library served again as state coordinator, preparing an individualized packet of legislative updates for each advocate, scheduling group events and arranging meetings with members of congress and/or their staff.
The ALA Washington Office provided an excellent series of briefings on April 23, with presentations from Molly Raphael, president, ALA; Maureen Sullivan, incoming
president, ALA; Keith Michael Fiels, executive director, ALA; Eva Poole, chair, Committee on Legislation, ALA. We also heard from Emily Sheketoff, executive director, ALA Washington Office, Vic Klatt, partner, PennHill Group; Danica Petroshius, partner, PennHill Group; and Stephanie Vance, Advocacy Associates, followed by a plenary session on the appropriations process. The briefings did not fill us with false optimism about increasing funding for libraries or library related initiatives (or even achieving flat funding in this very divisive legislative session). We were filled with facts and arguments, however, about essential connections between literacy, libraries, and socioeconomic indicators (e.g., increased literacy equaled with decreased crime and increased rates of employment). Supporting the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) was a primary talking point throughout the day.
We also heard presentations on e-books and access issues, privacy concerns, school libraries, Telecom and copyright, open access to federally funded research results (Federal Research Publications and Policy Act, or FRPPA), and support for the Government Publications Office. Find all of these issues well-documented at the ALA Washington Office website: http://www.ala.org/offices/wo.
Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island was feted for his work as a library champion, with an honorary membership in ALA and words of gratitude from Molly Raphael. She noted that Reed had sponsored every major piece of library legislation as a Rhode Island member of the U.S. House of Representatives and as a U.S. Senator for the past 22 years. As member of the Appropriations Committee, Reed overcame efforts to zero out library funding and delivered $28.6 million in competitive grants for school libraries and literacy programs in the 2012 Appropriations law.
April 24 was devoted to visits on Capitol Hill, preceded by a strategizing breakfast meeting for Ohio advocates. Many of us met with Marjorie Glick in Senator Brown’s office and then went in small groups or individually to speak with members or aides in thirteen different offices, including Senator Portman’s.
NLLD 2013 is scheduled for May 6-7. Plan now to be a part of this event. ALAO has wisely budgeted travel support for legislative advocates for many years; representing the concerns of academic libraries and scholarly communication issues will continue to be of great concern in the Congress of 2013.