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2013 ACRL Legislative Agenda

The ACRL Update announced the 2013 ACRL Legislative Agenda today. It:

focuses on three issues that the U.S. Congress has recently taken, or will most likely take, action on in the year ahead: first sale doctrine, public access to federally funded research, and federal funding for libraries. New this year, the agenda includes a watch list of policy issues of great concern to academic librarians. Legislation on these issues is not likely to arise and, moreover, ACRL does not believe that any legislation about these issues is necessary. Issues on the watch list are: government information, safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, orphan works/section 108, and fair use. ACRL will continue tracking these issues and advocate for the best interests of academic and research libraries, if necessary.

The announcement also reminds members to advocate for libraries by contacting their representatives in Congress in May as part of Virtual Library Legislative Day. There will be events during the week of May 6-10, 2013.


Report on National Library Legislative Day, 2011

United States Capitol from Capitol Hill
In the beginning of May I had the opportunity to visit Washington, DC and participate in National Library Legislative Day (NLLD). What a great experience, not only to visit the warmth of the sun, but also to make legislative office visits and tell staff what matters to us and to library users in Oregon.

The title National Library Legislative Day is a bit misleading, because it’s not one day, but two! On Monday, May 9th the ALA Washington Office hosted a briefing day, wherein NLLD participants receive the most up to date information about what’s happening on the hill.

This year, the briefing day consisted mainly of presentations about the issues, but was prefaced by a fantastic presentation called Divided Congress: Surveying the Landscape of the 112th Congress. Panelists included the moderator, Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director of the ALA Washington Office; Vic Klatt, former Chief of staff for Representative John Boehner and current partner at Penn Hill Group; Danica Petroshius, former chief of staff for the late Senator Ted Kennedy and partner at Penn Hill Group. I found this panel to be most interesting, because panelist gave a great overview of what is happening in congress.

Namely, panelists discussed the “weird” place in which libraries find themselves in the 112th Congress. Petroshius stressed that since appropriations and other budgetary items are the biggest item, that none of the budget cuts seem to be backed by any philosophy, they are just about “political expediency.”  And to paraphrase Klatt, “No one will say anything bad about libraries” but the weird place for them is that they aren’t anyone one thing. They aren’t treated like education or like social services. Library advocates should “find a place for libraries in every bill that goes forward.” Essentially, libraries and library advocates need to frame arguments for libraries in every forum and every avenue possible. Just hearing this perspective from panelists was eye-opening to me.

Following the day of briefing, we were off to legislative office appointments on Tuesday. The team from Oregon divvied up the meetings so that we Oregonians visited every Oregon Representative’s and Senator’s office.

I had the pleasure of joining some team members to chat with an aides from Representative Walden’s office; Representative Blumenauer’s office, and Senator Wyden’s office.  For each of these visits the team concentrated on appropriations and funding, since that is what was currently the issue in Congress. We advocated to keep LSTA funding levels as promised, and provided information about what LSTA funds in the state. Team members were even successful in getting Representative Blumenauer to sign onto a “dear colleague letter” in support of LSTA funding!

Although funding was at the foremost of most everyone’s mind we also did discuss other issues pertaining to libraries. Privacy and surveillance had active legislation in the Senate while library advocates from all over were on the hill. Since then, President Obama has signed the legislation that extended the USA PATRIOT Act; against which library advocates were lobbying. The issue is that the USA PATRIOT Act extension does not provide the necessary privacy reforms that provide protection to library patrons. For more information about this issue, read more over at ALA’s District Dispatch.

There were many issue briefs in the packets we presented to legislators, but funding and privacy took the forefront during our visits. For a complete list of issues included in NLLD, take a peek at my previous blog post for links to issues and resources.

House Committe Holding Public Access Hearing Next Week

Next Thursday, July 29th,  the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Policy, the Census and National Archives will hold a hearing on public access to federally funded research. You may remember that last winter the Office of Science and Technology Policy requested public input on the expansion of public access policies, and that this April the Federal Research Public Access Act was re-introduced in the Senate.

The imminent hearing by the house committee shows that there is excitement and movement around public access. Be sure to contact your representative to let her know what you and your patrons think of public access to federally funded research.

For more information you might want to read the Alliance for Taxpayer Access’s press release.

Report from Library Advocacy Day in Washington, DC

Last week at ALA’s 2010 Annual Conference, I had the pleasure of participating in Library Advocacy Day. On Tuesday, June 29th, librarians from all over the country gathered to show legislators the importance of funding libraries, and pointed to key issues facing libraries today. At 11am a Rally in Washington DC’s Upper Senate Park commenced. Outgoing ALA President Camila Alire spoke along with guest speakers Lauren Myracle, Senator Jack Reed, and Representative Vernon Ehlers. Despite a muggy DC summer heat, the energy among the crowd of librarians was up and chants of “we’re gonna show ’em” grew loud. Be sure to check out the pictures of the rally on Flickr.

In addition to attending the rally, I was able to go with Oregon’s team of librarians for office visits to meet with some of the state’s Representatives and Senators. The issues we stressed during the meetings were:


  • Fund the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) at $300 million to ensure the best possible library resources for all constituents.
  • Fund Improving Literacy Through School Libraries at $100 million to best prepare students for the 21st century workforce.


  • Every school should have a fully funded school library staffed by a full-time, state-certified school librarian.
  • Include school librarians in state & local teacher professional development federal funds for recruitment and training of K-12 staff.


  • Co-sponsor the Access to Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 (H.R. 3101 and S. 3304) so that persons with disabilities will have access to new technologies and library services.
  • Support network neutrality to assure a free and open Internet for all.
  • Assure public access to federally funded congressional and scholarly research by supporting:
    • Congressional Research Service Electronic Accessibility Act of 2009, H.R. 3762;
    • Open the Congressional Research Service (CRS), S.R. 118; and,
    • The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2009 (FRPAA of 2009), S. 1373 and H.R. 5037.

-From the ALA Office of Government Relations (Read the whole document here.)

All of our meetings were successful and our state representatives learned about the issues affecting libraries in Oregon.  Representative Blumenauer even loved the Library Advocacy Day red t-shirts and asked for some!

Just as a follow up you  might consider writing your state representative and Oregon’s Senators to thank them for their interest in and support of libraries.

ACTA Text Released

To follow up on the post I made earlier this week, ACTA’s (Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement) text was released yesterday. There’s already a lot of commentary out there on the web. Consensus seems to be that not much has changed. For a good portal to find some of the interesting comments, you might use Michael Geist’s collection or even read his take.

One of the most notable things about the official release of this text is that, according to Geist:

Unlike the earlier leaked version which provided specific attribution to country positions, this official version has removed references to those positions, so the text does not state who supports which version of the text.

ACTA and Foreign Language Works, the Internet, and more…

Over at the LibraryLaw Blog is a post entitled: Will ACTA end the purchase of foreign titles by libraries? If you haven’t been following ACTA and you’re a foreign language librarian you might take heed! ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is essentially a meeting that was top secret and aims to draft an agreement between countries, but their work has been leaked. The ramifications of this trade agreement is unclear, but there are some pretty startling potential ramifications that may come out of it.

Do any of you librarians who work with foreign language academicians know about what you are able to purchase and bring back into the country for non-commercial use? What is your current practice for purchasing foreign language works? How would the inability to collect these works affect your patrons, your service, and your collection?

But foreign language works are not the only issue librarians and library advocates have rasied with the leaked text. The Library Copyright Alliance, along with some other groups, has issued a document entitled: Concerns with the Leaked Internet Chapter of ACTA (pdf).

We’ll have to wait until Wednesday when the text of ACTA will officially be released, but it’s sure to be rife with fodder for discourse on copyright and how libraries provide services and do their good work.