Posted on May 15, 2014 at 6:00 am
by Nancy Ledeboer, Director
Spokane County Library District
Last week, library delegates from all fifty states gathered, in Washington, D.C., for the American Library Association Legislative Day, to be briefed on issues related to libraries. Since our funding is derived primarily from local property taxes, you may be wondering how federal policy impacts our libraries.
Spokane County Library District benefits from federal funding, which is distributed by the Institute of Museums and Library Services. The Washington State Library uses these funds to provide library services to the blind and disabled. The State Library negotiates uniform pricing of electronic resources, and helps to underwrite the cost so that everyone in Washington has access to basic resources, such as periodicals and newspapers. IMLS funds are also used for special projects and research. Recently, the Early Learning Public Library Partnership collaborated with the University of Washington iSchool to conduct research on how libraries prepare children for kindergarten. Libraries have been doing story times for a long time, but now, thanks to federal funding and intrepid librarians, we have new evidence-based research to support ongoing efforts to promote early literacy.
There were two other representatives from Washington State at the Legislative Day. We visited with both State Senators and with the House Representatives from our home districts together. John Sheller, from the King County Library System, is the Federal Legislative Coordinator for the Washington Library Association. Lisa Lechuga is a youth services librarian from Port Orchard Library, in Kitsap County. She was attending her first Legislative Day on a scholarship from the Young Adult Library Services Association.
While we were there, we thanked our legislators for supporting e-Rate, a federal program reimburses schools and libraries for costs associated with providing Internet access to the public. We asked our legislators to support funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. We encouraged them to support funding for early learning and workforce training and we asked that libraries be considered eligible for grants in these areas. Lisa brought pictures of families attending programs at the Port Orchard Library last month. I talked about our partnership with WorkSource and how the IT Academy online training provided by Microsoft, in partnership with the library, prepares job seekers for certification in Microsoft products. John shared information about digital library resources and asked legislators to be aware of copyright laws that impact access to eBooks and electronic resources. We invited all of our legislators to visit their local library this summer and see how libraries are supporting STEM, promoting literacy, and engaging our community members.
It was a quick trip, but packed with valuable information about how federal policy impacts all types of libraries. It was a great opportunity to share the important work that is being done every day in libraries across the country, as well.