Happy National Library Legislative Day

Libraries are facing some serious cuts and while we don’t feed people in food, we feed their minds, hearts and souls. And I believe that. It’s what gets me out of bed each morning. We are often the only safe place for homeless individuals to go to during the day. We are after-school care for thousands of kids. We are the only way many people can apply for jobs because we have free computers. We do a lot. And that’s not including our free books, CDs and DVDs, access to credible information and programming.

Today hundreds of librarians are meeting with their senators and representatives in Washington, DC to encourage them to support this fundamental pillar of our democratic society: libraries. You don’t have to go to DC to show your support. The American Library Association has provided some so-easy-I-felt-lazy-using-them-tools to contact your representatives on the Hill. They include:

So what’s on the agenda? In particular, librarians are focusing on the following pieces of legislation and actions (taken from ALA’s virtual Library Legislative Day page):

  • Fund the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) at $232 million, the level last authorized in December 2010;
  • Preserve the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program with its own budget line and appropriate the program at its FY2010 level of $19.1 million;
  • Maintain funding for the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Compendia Branch at $2.9 million in order to preserve publication of “Statistical Abstracts” and other publications;
  • Fund the Salaries and Expenses work of the Government Printing Office (GPO) at $42,173,000 to preserve public access through the FDLP and FedSYS.
  • Support student performance by including an effective school library program as part of ESEA through the LEARN Act to include:
    -A school library staffed by a state-certified school librarian;
    -A school library with up-to-date books, materials, equipment, and technology, including broadband connectivity; and
    -Instruction by librarians for students and staff on digital and computer literacy skills, including collaboration between classroom teachers and school librarians to develop and implement the curriculum and other school reforms.

If you want updates on the Day, look for the #legday2011 hashtag on Twitter and Facebook. There are even awesome bookmarks to print out and hand to your patrons.

Living in a democratic society means we have the right to advocate directly with our government on issues that have meaning to us. It also means so do other groups and individuals. Which means if we want our voices to be heard, we must be loud. Which contrary to popular belief, is not all that hard for librarians to do.

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