2015 National Libraries Legislative Day

New York Library delegates attend a day of legislative briefing as they prepare to approach congressmen on National Library Legislative Day.

by Kelly Johnson, ACRL/NY Legislative Liaison

The 2015 National Libraries Legislative Day (the 41st annual NLLD) brought over 400 library supporters together on May 5th to advocate for libraries on Capitol Hill. Robert Hubsher, Executive Director of the Ramapo Catskill Library System, led New York’s advocates who collectively represented public, school, and (me!) academic libraries as we prepared and visited the state’s legislative offices.

NLLD was intense. As a first time attendee I participated in the Sunday evening pre-conference, which provided newcomers with tips and tricks for successfully approaching congressmen and -women or (more likely) their legislative aides. But the official NLLD kicked off on Monday, with hundreds of librarians and their supporters gathered for legislative briefing. Speakers and panelists discussed current issues facing libraries, media coverage, audience engagement, and more. The day ended with brief state delegation meetings and plans to hit the Hill early the next morning. The New York team was nothing if not passionate and congenial, and I was happy to join their ranks.

We collectively met with Senator Gillebrand’s and Senator Schumer’s legislative aides, asking for the Senators’ support on upcoming legislation (see below). Both aides were receptive and appeared supportive of libraries. After those meetings we individually visited our Representatives’ offices, where some were able to meet with legislative aides (the House was out of session, so none were able to meet directly with their Representatives). I visited the offices of Representatives Nydia Velazquez (District 7), Jerrold Nadler (District 10), and Carolyn Maloney (District 12), leaving informational packets with office staff.

An exhausting but productive 3 days I can’t wait to return next year.

Access the ALA’s 2015 NLLD Issue Briefs

2015 NLLD Priorities for Academic Libraries:
The USA FREEDOM Act of 2015
The USA Freedom Act was written in response to Section 215 (the Library Provision) of the USA PATRIOT Act. Its passage would end the government’s ability to obtain patron reading and internet activity records without a probable-cause issued search warrant. Section 215 will expire on June 1st this year, so action is imperative during this 114th Congressional Session. The bill passed the House on May 13th, and will soon reach the Senate floor. Congress was asked to support, without weakening, the passage of the USA Freedom Act.

FASTR would require that federally (publicly) funded research be made freely available to the public without unfair delay. If passed, federally funded research manuscripts would be publicly available online and without cost within 6 months of publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The Act also addresses requirements for long-term preservation efforts for the manuscripts. Congress was asked to support FASTR.

Additional 2015 NLLD Priorities:
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
FOIA would require government agencies to make their records publicly available unless they are able to demonstrate foreseeable, identifiable harm resulting from their release. Congress was asked to support FOIA.

The FCC’s Open Internet Order
The Open Internet Order demands Net Neutrality; if it were weakened, it would allow internet service providers to prioritize internet speed or access for their own interests. Congress was asked to oppose any weakening of the FCC’s Open Internet Order.

The Marrakesh Treaty
If the Marrakesh Treaty were ratified, it would recalibrate copyright law to allow access to digitized formats of print materials for those who are print disabled. Congress was asked to support its ratification.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
Congress was asked to support direct funding for school libraries and librarians in the ESEA in order to minimize threats to library funding and maximize program effectiveness.

Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) Funding
Congress was asked to maintain IAL funding, the only source of federal funding for school library materials targeting literacy, at the level of $25 million for FY2016.

The Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA)
Congress was asked to support funding of the LSTA at the level of $186.6 million for FY2016. The LSTA is the only federal funding program that specifically targets libraries, and in most cases is provided to each state with a matching grant through the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Want to attend NLLD 2016? Save the date for May 2-3, 2016, and visit ala.org/nlld for more information!