Mr. Potter Goes to Washington
May 09, 2013
I recently participated in the 2013 National Library Legislative Day. This event is sponsored by the American Library Association and occurs in the spring every year. The Missouri delegation was comprised of three public librarians, two academic librarians, and one school librarian, coming from all parts of the Show-Me State. Although 95 percent of Mid-Continent Public Library's funding comes from our local property tax, it is still important to talk with our Senators and Representatives about the very important programs, funding, and policy decisions that affect Missouri's libraries and MCPL.
The ALA Washington Office highlighted several issues for us to discuss with the Senators and Representatives. I talked about the proposed $184.7 million funding for the Library Services and Technology Act, and specifically how Missouri uses resources from this program to provide library services throughout the state.
Our group also encouraged increased funding for E-Rate. This is the program that allows schools and libraries to receive discounts in data and telecommunication services. We thanked legislators for their support and inclusion of libraries in the Workforce Investment Act.
We also spoke a lot about literacy programs, specifically the LEARN ACT and funding for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program. Our group was also interested in encouraging the inclusion of effective school library programs in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It really is surprising how often people forget to include libraries and library services in literacy and education efforts.
The final program that we asked our Senators and Representatives to support was the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR). This policy would require that when researchers conduct research using government funding, the journal articles that come from that research would become available in an open archive six months following publication.
We were able to meet face to face with five of the ten members from the Missouri delegation. I feel the visits were very productive and helped our national legislators better understand the issues that concern Missouri's library community.
Steven V. Potter
Library Director and CEO