Category Archives: Advocacy

Librarians March for Science

March for Science logoOn Earth Day, April 22, 2017, researchers, educators, students, and citizen scientists all over the world will take to the streets in celebration of science. The March for Science is an international, nonpartisan event organized to “champion robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity.” The movement has attracted broad support from over 60 partner organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Sigma Xi, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. The ACRL Board of Directors voted to partner with the March for Science and encourages ACRL members to attend.

The main event will be held in Washington D.C. at 10 a.m. with a teach-in and rally on the National Mall, followed by a march through the streets of DC. More than 400 satellite marches have also been organized in all 50 states, 40 countries, and across 6 continents.

Librarians will be well-represented at the march in D.C. and the satellite marches, to express their support for open scientific communication and evidence-based decision making.

When asked why they intend to march, these librarians responded:

“Stifling open communication of science limits the public’s right to know, with serious consequences for poor policy making and uninformed decisions regarding research funding, negligent enforcement of environmental regulations (or outright loss of environmental oversight), and nearly every aspect of everyday living. From the technology of the internet to basic agricultural practices, poor management of the science enterprise will adversely affect health and wellness, nutrition, education, the environment, innovation, job creation and production, and creativity, to name just a few areas of influence.” – Alison Ricker, Oberlin College

“I think evidence-based decision making is vitally important to democracy so any attempt to undermine science also attempts to undermine at least part of the foundations of democracy.”- John Dupuis, York University

“I’m a former scientists turned librarian, and I strongly believe that science literacy goes hand in hand with information literacy. The rise of people who refute facts – or believe in alternative facts – is distressing to me, as I believe we as a society can never reach our full potential without accepting certain basic, proven concepts.” – Maggie Savidakis-Dunn, Shippensburg University

“All information is not created equal – ignorance is not as good as knowledge, and “alt-facts” are not as good as facts. We have a responsibility as librarians to advocate for the truth and for the uncensored distribution of scientific data and communication.” – Emma Oxford, James Madison University

“I’m a science librarian. Scientific information and resources are put through a gauntlet of peer-review, and to say that such scientific studies cannot be trusted after going through that process is willful ignorance. As managers of information, we have to come together with scientists and clearly assert that things CAN be known – facts about our universe CAN be established beyond reasonable doubt – if we use appropriate, collaborative, scientific methods for gathering and analyzing data.” – Camille Mathieu, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

“Because I believe that science represents the future of America, and I believe in the privilege of exercising my voice as a citizen and supporter of science.” – Rachel Borchardt, American University

Join your library colleagues and march to celebrate the impact of science in our lives.

April 18 Update: John Dupuis (@dupuisj), Science and Engineering Librarian at York University, will be speaking at the March for Science Toronto.

Join ALA Washington Office for Webinar on Federal Budget 4/13

On Thursday, April 13, 2017, the ALA Washington Office Appropriations expert Kevin Maher and the Penn Hill lobbying group’s Aissa Canchola will host an hour long discussion about the Congressional budget process. Their goal is to help unravel the complicated tangle that is the FY17 budget, the FY18 budget, the President’s “Skinny” budget, Continuing Resolutions, and everything that means for library funding. They’ll also take time to look to the future and discuss what comes next in the appropriations process and ways that you can take action.

The free webinar will be hosted on the ALA YouTube channel on at 2:30 p.m. Eastern on April 13th and will include a time for Q and A. Tune in to hear from the experts and ask questions of how it all works (or doesn’t), and use #SaveIMLS to ask questions and join the conversation.

Looking for other ways to help #SaveIMLS and protect federal library funding? Sign up to join the National Library Legislative Day Thunderclap or commit to calling, emailing, or tweeting your Members of Congress on May 1, 2017.

ACRL Supports Open Data Legislation

On April 5, 2017, ACRL joined over 80 other organizations in signing a coalition letter supporting the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act, reintroduced by a bicameral and bipartisan group of lawmakers on March 29, 2017, as S. 760 and H.R. 1770. The OPEN Government Data Act will require all federal agencies to publish their information online, using non-proprietary, machine-readable data formats.

The bill codifies and expands the 2013 government-wide Open Data policy (“Open Data Policy-Managing Information as an Asset”, M-13-13), which has been integrated into agency policy for the past three years. It is similar to what was passed by the Senate last Congress.

In summary, the legislation would:

  • Require federal agencies to take the next step in publishing their data sets in a truly accessible manner in open formats and as machine-readable data;
  • Help create a map of all federal data sets;
  • Empower agency Chief Information Officers to improve the quality of the data they are publishing; and
  • Write meaningful open data definitions into US law to enable smarter legislation in the future.

The coalition letter is being sent to relevant Congressional committees. Supporting this legislation is consistent with ACRL’s strategic goal to accelerate the transition to more open and equitable systems of scholarship and, more specifically, the strategic objective that ACRL is an advocate for open dissemination practices.

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.

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