ACRL/NY is in the process of switching Legislative Liaisons. While the dust settles, please go to the ACRL/NY Advocacy site to keep up with the Legislative Liaison and ACRL/NY Advocacy news.
The following has been posted on behalf of Robert Schmidt, Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO)
As part of our on-going New York Legislative advocacy program, METRO made legislative visits to the Albany offices of 12 area legislators on February 24th and 25th. More visits were planned but were curtailed due to the upstate snowstorms.
This year, the proposed Executive Budget contains an additional $2.4 million cut in Library Aid. This will be the fifth cut in library funding in the last two years and would bring Library Aid down from $102 million in 2007 to $84.5 million 2010, which amounts to a combined 18% reduction over that time.
There are over 90 State Senators and State Assembly Members from the New York City area, and it is impractical to visit each of their offices. Therefore, METRO targets those members from our area that are particularly influential in the state’s budget process.
Most of the legislators that were visited are in general support of library funding; in fact many are long- time library champions. The reason for the visits is that there is, of course, a limited amount of money available, especially during the current budgetary crisis. At the same time, there are almost a limitless array of interest groups who want some of the government appropriations. If libraries are not in Albany and present a solid case, it would be much too easy for those funds to be appropriated in other areas. In fact, the effectiveness of this strategy was confirmed directly in at least four of the visits.
We did not deny the fact that the state was in fiscal difficulties. However, there is a general idea being proposed of “shared sacrifice.” That is that all parts of the state budget are going to have to give-in and be reduced somewhat.
We pointed out that library funding has been essentially flat since 1993, despite all the increases in costs and the general increased use of libraries as reported in the news media. This flat funding was happening while most other parts of the state budget have increased by 50, 60, 70 percent and higher. In addition, libraries have had four recent cuts during the past two years. Therefore, our message was that libraries have already given their fair share in order to help with the states budget, and that any further cuts would be grossly unfair and unproductive for the state. We pointed out the higher demand for library services during a recession and that many people depended on libraries for many aspects of job searching. At the same time, libraries are a vital resource for businesses that are necessary for a good economy.
Almost all legislators spoke in favor of library funding. While some knew the history of library funding, many others did not.
Results and further action
Visibility and information are a vital part of any legislative advocacy. Our Albany appointments assisted in raising that visibility and in sharing information which will assist our library supporters in fending off calls for further cuts.
Because of all the budgetary problems and other unrelated government issues, there is little chance that Albany will have an on-time budget on April 1st.
The competition for appropriations is fierce. It is necessary that all library supporters continue to call and visit their legislators until a state budget is enacted. A great source for further information is the New York Library Association’s website, www.nyla.org
If you would like personal assistance with information concerning setting up a visit or in putting together a support letter, please feel free to contact me, Robert Schmidt, at METRO. My email is email@example.com and my phone number is (212) 228-2320 x 14.
ACRL/NY is the local chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries for the greater New York metropolitan area. Our chapter is divided into three geographic sections to address local needs: New York City, Long Island, and Westchester/Lower Hudson Valley.
ACRL/NY is dedicated to improving library services, encouraging the exchange of ideas and information, providing networking opportunities for librarians and seeking greater cooperation among academic and research libraries. ACRL/NY promotes professional standards, mentors librarians, and enhances professional development through a variety of educational programs. The Chapter encourages local participation in national issues relating to academic and research libraries. One way in which we try to achieve these goals is through our annual ACRL/NY Annual Symposium. We publish an Events & Jobs blog (http://acrlny.blogspot.com/) and a quarterly newsletter (http://acrlny.wordpress.com/), organize activities geared toward the geographic sections, oversee discussion groups, and host programs, events, and workshops.
Academic Libraries in New York
The academic library is often called “the heart of the campus.” Consider that ACRL/NY members represent thirty-eight academic libraries located throughout New York City’s five boroughs, Long Island, Westchester County and the Lower Hudson Valley. Our membership ranges from the small community college to the large research institutions, both public and private. Our patrons, and their families, are likely to be your constituents—and that translates into hundreds of thousands of voters. While the particular needs of our individual libraries might vary, fundamentally we are united in our endeavor to provide the finest service to our users, to address the information needs of our patrons and to ensure that our students maintain a high level of information literacy skills that are necessary in this ever-increasing digital age.
Libraries are doing their part to ensure that all our community members have access to the many benefits of academic library services. But, we need your support!
How Our Legislators Can Help
Stable, generous funding levels for library services are absolutely critical for meeting the ongoing needs of our communities, particularly in this difficult economic time. ACRL/NY urges you to continue to strengthen, protect and support all programs related to our libraries.
As stated on the New York Libraries Association (NYLA) website, “Library Aid was reduced by $3 million in 2008 and $12 million in 2009 despite library usage increasing by double digits and library services becoming an essential tool to economic recovery for the unemployed and economically disadvantaged. The Governor’s proposed 2010/2011 State Budget calls for the fifth reduction in Library Aid of $2.4 million that would bring funding below 1998 levels. The combined cuts total $18 million or 18% over 3 years.”
We cannot afford any additional cuts to libraries and library-related services. Our communities are depending on us.
Legislative Liaison, ACRL/NY
The American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Consumer Federation of America, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, and the U.S. PIRG have joined together by filing an Amicus Curiae brief in support of Thomas S. Vernor in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case Vernor v. Autotech.
At issue here is the “first sale” doctrine in relation to the Copyright Act — a principle that is much relied upon in libraries — and whether it pertains to software products which have contractual license agreements. A ruling in favor of Autotech might result in similar actions by other copyright owners of media.
For more, read Kara Malenfant’s February 16, 2010 post “ACRL, ALA, ARL Support Online Software Reseller Against Infringement Allegations” in ACRL insider
A brief article in Library Journal, January 12, 2010, written by Norman Oder, provides an information update on the USA PATRIOT Act renewal process and the bills that are pending in the House, H.R. 3845: “To extend and modify authorities needed to combat terrorism and protect civil liberties, and for other purposes”, and in the Senate S.1692: “A bill to extend the sunset of certain provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and the authority to issue national security letters, and for other purposes”.
Read the complete article here.
Know Your Elected Representatives
“A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.” Henry Ward Beecher
Making a compelling case for libraries and library funding with your elected officials is relatively easy. Libraries are essentially non-controversial, and are supported by those from all sides of the political spectrum. But making a successful case for libraries, library related issues or any other issues of importance to you first takes designing a strategy to make sure that your voice is heard.
While the one-time letter or attendance at a rally, or a letter to the editor can be beneficial and add to the general clamor, it is rarely successful alone. It also often results in disappointment to the participant because they feel like they have done what they could do, but to no effect.
Building a relationship with your elected official is a necessity in a successful strategy. Elements in getting to know about your representative and your represenative’s district include:
- What Party and philosophy do they come from? (This will help define your approach and shape your message.)
- Of what committees are they a member and what issues are important to their office? Relate your issues to their issues and you have a much larger chance of success.
- How is this particular issue important to their district and what benefits will it bring? Every official’s first job is getting re-elected.
Since no one-time effort is bound to have much effect, write your legislator briefly over a period of time. Try to involve your representative in your institution by asking them to visit on occasions that are appropriate. Sign-up for their Twitter and Facebook and other social networking. Keep abreast of activities on their website, and make your appeals pertinent. Get involved with other like-minded individuals so that your voice may be multiplied.
A credible consistent appeal from a constituent has a much larger impact than a stray letter from an unknown.Robert Schmidt Special Projects Manager Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO)
Who we are:
ACRL/NY Mission Statement
In accordance with the Bylaws of the Greater New York Metropolitan Area Chapter/Association of College and Research Libraries, Inc., ACRL/NY is dedicated to improving library services, encouraging the exchange of ideas and information, providing networking opportunities for librarians and seeking greater cooperation among academic and research libraries. ACRL/NY promotes professional standards, mentors librarians, and enhances professional development through a variety of educational programs. The Chapter encourages local participation in national issues relating to academic and research libraries.
The ACRL/NY Legislative Advocacy blog aims to be a discussion and information forum for those interested in library legislative advocacy. We welcome you to share updates, information and links relating to library advocacy.