Category Archives: Advocacy

Call your Representative in the US House TODAY to Preserve Library Funding

In mid-March 2017, the President of the United States proposed eliminating virtually all federal library funding along with the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the agency that distributes most library funding to every state in the nation. Now budget-cutters in Congress are considering whether to follow his lead. This year, like never before, libraries and everyone who loves them must fight for libraries and tell their members of Congress to support full federal funding. In the immediate near term, we’re asking you to focus on preserving the more than $210 million provided annually for Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA, the vast bulk of which is the Grants to State program, population formula funding administered by IMLS comprising two-thirds of the agency’s budget) and Innovative Approaches to Libraries (IAL) programs.

Library champions in the U.S. House of Representatives are circulating two “Dear Appropriator” letters to their colleagues to preserve this federal library funding, one supporting LSTA (PDF) and the other supporting IAL (PDF). The deadline for your Representative to sign on is April 3 so please call your Representative today! The bottom line is about the bottom line: the more Members of Congress who sign the LSTA and IAL letters, the better the chance that the Appropriators will not cut those critical programs.

RIGHT NOW is the time! Pick up the phone and call your Representative in the House to ask them to sign these two important letters to the Appropriations Committee now making the rounds. Can’t get through to DC? Try calling the local district office in your home state. The more members of Congress who sign these “Dear Appropriator” letters, the less likely LSTA and IAL are to be eliminated or cut. But they won’t sign unless you, their constituent, demands it.

Find the phone number and message you’ll convey to the friendly office staff of your Representative at the ALA Legislative Action Center; it’s simple:

“Hello, I’m a constituent. Please ask Representative  ________ to sign both the FY 2018 LSTA and IAL ‘Dear Appropriator’ letters circulating for signature before April 3.”

Then tell them why. Share a story about what this funding means for people in your community. How did LSTA or IAL funding support students and improve their learning? Help faculty be more effective in their teaching? What are other members of your community able to accomplish that they wouldn’t have been able to do? If this funding goes away, what will the impact be for people where you live?

Five minutes of your time could help preserve over $210 million in library funding now at risk. While the President proposed eliminating many agencies, Congress is unlikely to defund IMLS wholesale but is likely to severely cut or eliminate “line item” appropriations for specific programs — like LSTA and IAL — that are not demonstrably very broadly supported in Congress. The “Dear Appropriator” letter process underway right now is THE first and best way to demand that critical support from every member of Congress. Since states are required to match about a third of the federal LSTA funds provided through IMLS, federal cuts probably mean state funding cuts too! The Dear Appropriator letters in the House are one part in a larger, longer grassroots effort to win continued support for IMLS. (Learn more about why the fight for libraries this week is so important and read a late breaking appropriations update.) Stay tuned for a similar alert for the Senate letters in the coming days. We need your help this year like never before. Help preserve federal library funding.

UPDATE: Check to see if your Representative has signed the LSTA and IAL letters in this handy database. If your Representative hasn’t signed, give them a call and ask them! And if they have, a thank you call or email never hurts.

Ready for more? Here’s what you can do next:

  • Get ready to call your Senators when “Dear Appropriator” letters are circulating in that chamber of Congress
  • Stay current by registering for action alerts and follow blog posts from the ALA Washington Office.
  • Help staff in the ALA Washington Office tell Congress the best library story: yours. Share your stories about what federal library funding means for your community. Tweet using the #SaveIMLS tag – say how IMLS funding supports your local community.
  • Sign up to participate in National Library Legislative Day (May 1-2) either in person or virtually.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper to significantly amplify your voice and urge public support for libraries.
  • Talk to others on your campus, in particular your government relations staff (typically in the office of the president, provost or external affairs), and tell them why preserving federal funding for libraries should be a priority for them, too. Ask for their help.
  • Attend a constituent coffee at the local office when your members of Congress are in their districts April 10–21. Go see them.
  • Invite your members of Congress to your campus for a library tour or organize an event and invite them to attend. (Not available? Ask a staff person from the local district office to serve on a panel discussion, hosted at the library.)

At the ACRL 2017 Conference in Baltimore, we heard during a town hall meeting and grassroots writing sessions that ALA has 3 lobbyists for our nearly 60,000 members and one person is only one voice. In other words: we’re only as good as our members are engaged. While postcards are a good first step (and you can download and print ours) we urge you to dedicate yourself to learning to lobby and to commit yourself to regular sustained action. We need ACRL and ALA members, all of us, to join together in, “the fight of our generation.”

National Library Groups Oppose Bill to Make Register of Copyrights a Presidential Appointee

Library Copyright Alliance LogoOn March 23, 2017, the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee introduced legislation entitled the “Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017.” The bill would make the position of the Register of Copyrights subject to Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation. Under current law (17 USC 701), the Librarian of Congress selects the Register.

The Library Copyright Alliance, a group of national library organizations collectively representing more than 120,000 libraries in the United States and serving an estimated 200 million patrons annually, released the following statement in response:

The “Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act” is mystifying. Why Congress would voluntarily cede its own confirmed Librarian’s authority to select and oversee a key Congressional advisor on copyright matters to the Executive Branch is hard to imagine.

It’s also difficult to understand how the public or Congress itself would benefit from politicization of the Register of Copyrights’ position by making it subject to presidential appointment and Senate confirmation, as this legislation proposes. Such politicization of the position necessarily would result in a Register more actively engaged in policy development than in competent management and modernization.

Politicizing the process of appointing the next Register would severely delay his or her installation. That would be poor business practice and would slow implementation of much needed technological reform. The pressing needs of the Copyright Office, which are well documented, require that a new and qualified Register be appointed as soon as possible. The many constituencies in the public and private sectors that depend on the Copyright Office simply cannot afford what could easily be a year’s delay before a new Register can take the helm were this bill to become law.

Lastly, the proposed 10-year term would lead to less accountability to Congress and the public. That contradicts the stated intent of the bill made plain in its title.

LCA thus opposes the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act and urges all members of Congress to do the same.

The Library Copyright Alliance consists of the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries.

New ALA Libraries Respond Website

To help libraries meet the information needs of their communities during these challenging times, the ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (ODLOS) has created Libraries Respond, a comprehensive online resource that aims to keep current events in conversation with libraries’ ongoing work in and commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.

Resources featured on Libraries Respond include:

  • Focused topic areas including the 2016 Election, the Dakota Access Pipeline (#NODAPL), immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, and protections for our nation’s transgender students.
  • Official statements from ALA leadership and its divisions and affiliate organizations.
  • News coverage of libraries’ response to current events.
  • Resources developed by librarians in the field.
  • “10 Things Your Library Can Do for 2017 and Beyond,” a quick-reference guide
  • Self-care tips for frontline library staff.

Rebecca M. Marrall’s ACRL 2015 conference paper “Developing Best Practices for Serving Transgender Patrons at Academic Library Service Points” is featured as resource in the Protections for Our Nation’s Transgender Students section of the site.


Library Copyright Alliance Files Briefs, Submits Comments

Library Copyright Alliance Logo The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), whose members are the American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, and Association of College and Research Libraries) continues to address copyright issues that affect libraries and our users. In recent weeks, LCA has worked for the library community in the following ways:

Support for Marrakesh Treaty Implementation
Together with other members of LCA, on February 22, 2017, ACRL signed on to a statement issued by the National Federation of the Blind supporting the immediate ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled, as well as the immediate passage of a ‘Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act of 2017’ to make modest adjustments of United States copyright law.

Comments to Copyright Office on Section 512 Study
On February 17, 2017, LCA submitted additional comments in response to the request issued by the Copyright Office concerning its study of Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and as a follow up to LCA’s initial comments (April 2016) and participation in a May 2016 roundtable in New York. In this set of comments, LCA urged the Copyright Office to evaluate Section 512 in balance with the rest of the DMCA, considering the larger context in which Congress created the safe harbor system and in which the system must be evaluated. LCA also pointed out that for two decades, the federal government has strongly supported broadband availability in libraries and educational institutions and a uniform repeat infringer policy could undermine the achievements of the federal government’s broadband policy.

Amicus Brief: Capitol Records, LLC v. ReDigi Inc.
On February 14, 2017, members of LCA filed an amicus brief in support of reversal, believing fair use enables the application of the first sale right with respect to the transmission of digital works in appropriate circumstances.

Amicus Brief: Cambridge University Press v. J. L. Albert
On February 13, 2017, members of LCA filed an amicus brief in support of affirmance which makes three primary points. First, that the Georgia State University (GSU) e-reserves policy embodies widespread and well-established best practices for fair use and the Court should resist the publishers’ invitation to upend the consensus which the GSU policy reflects. Second, that the nature of these scholarly works favors fair use in every instance at issue. Third, that the District Court properly considered whether GSU’s use would cause substantial harm finding any adverse impact to be minimal in most cases while the public benefit of allowing the use at issue here is substantial.

Input on Register of Copyrights
In response to a public call, LCA provided input on January 31, 2017, about the the knowledge, skills, and abilities we believe are the most important for the Register of Copyrights and about top priorities for the Register.

Comments on White Paper on Reform of the Copyright Office
In response to a white paper entitled “Reform of the U.S. Copyright Office” issued by the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, LCA provided comments on January 31, 2017. While LCA strongly agrees with the objective of modernizing the Copyright Office so that it can meet the challenges of the 21st Century, we disagree that statutory reform of the Copyright Office is necessary to accomplish these objectives.

ACRL Statement on the Dissemination of Federal Research

Editor’s note: The following statement was approved by the ACRL Board of Directors on February 23, 2017. The Board wishes to acknowledge the ACRL Research and Scholarly Environment Committee’s input and work in drafting the statement.

As the higher education organization for librarians, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is dedicated to the advancement of learning and to the transformation of scholarship. ACRL is unwavering in its long-standing commitment to promoting the free exchange of different viewpoints and ensuring privacy and confidentiality in academic libraries. In the spirit of previous statements, ACRL reaffirms its dedication to its core values: visionary leadership; transformation, new ideas, and global perspectives; exemplary service to members; diversity, integrity, and transparency; continuous learning; responsible stewardship of resources; the values of higher education; and intellectual freedom. One of ACRL’s objectives is that “librarians accelerate the transition to more open and equitable systems of scholarship.” Recent actions from the new Executive Branch agencies have cast the realization of this goal into jeopardy, and they run counter to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and Core Values of Librarianship. These values are essential to academic advancement across the institutions we serve in the United States and abroad.

Agency orders to cease communication with the public – as well as a directive calling for the submission of EPA publications to administration review – had to be walked back in response to public outcry, but they set worrisome examples. These federal agencies are taxpayer-supported, and their outputs for public consumption and understanding are an essential service to everyone. Actions that silence scientists and other specialists employed by these agencies set dangerous precedents for fair and open, democratic governance and hinder the advancement of scientific knowledge by restricting the dissemination of research.

Privileging political viewpoints, rather than facts, erodes our country’s values of democracy, liberty, and equality. Limiting the ability of scientists and other educators to communicate with the public jeopardizes the creation of new knowledge. It is critical to maintain open communication from the government to the public, especially to support efforts to enfranchise disadvantaged and underrepresented populations, who rely on access to publicly available resources to make economic and health decisions. If these restrictive acts go unchallenged, we potentially set in motion an era of complacency that could devolve into acceptance of suppression and a mindset that discourages civic engagement and undermines the principles of democracy, which rely on an engaged population.

ACRL considers it an ethical and professional responsibility to challenge attempts to call into question the validity of facts simply because they run counter to the establishment’s agenda, or to subvert access to information.

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