Posted: January 31, 2009 • LEGISLATIVE ISSUES NETWORK

In this issue

  1. Federal Stimulus Plan
  2. Consumer Product Safety Commission (Update)
  3. Legislative Day

I. Federal Stimulus Plan
The widely-reported stimulus plan, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1) passed the House last Wednesday and is expected to be considered by the Senate (as S.R. 1) this week. The American Library Association has led efforts to include language in the Act specifying that stimulus funds can be used for libraries and library programming.

The House version of the bill does offer some specific areas where school and academic libraries may benefit (if local and state governing authorities opt to designate funds for school or academic library renovation, for instance). However, no language was included specifying the eligibility of public libraries for stimulus funding. While the bill offers states flexibility (including allocations left to the discretion of state governors and other provisions), the absence of any specific language directing money towards public library workforce programming, facilities, or other workforce-related or educational services (including for schools and academic libraries) leaves the strong possibility that many states may simply not consider using any of the stimulus funding for such library activities.

Library supporters are urged to contact Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn and ask them to ensure that the Senate include language specifying that public, academic, and school libraries are indeed eligible for funds that promote workforce development, education, and educational and health infrastructure improvements.

To contact Sens. Hutchison and Cornyn, go to ALA’s federal resource center.

II. Consumer Product Safety Commission (Update)
As has been widely reported, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently released draft rules which were to have shaped implementation of a federal statute passed last year. These proposed new rules set a series of requirements for libraries regarding testing and disposition of children’s books. The rules were designed to implement new standards regarding lead content in toys and other children’s materials (including books). The proposed rules would have been impossible for libraries to follow (since some of the rules called for physical testing of all children’s books for lead, for instance).

Librarians across the country have flooded the Commission with letters describing the problems that the proposed rules would cause. The American Library Association now reports that, at a public meeting was held January 22, Cheryl Falvey, General Counsel for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), stated that a decision (regarding an exemption for libraries) should be made by the first week of February. She advised libraries not to take any action at this time, and ALA is hopeful that the Commission’s decision will, indeed, exempt libraries.

ALA adds on its website: “Even with her assurances, we must let the CPSC know how important an issue this is to libraries. Please call the Acting Commissioner, Nancy Nord, at (301) 504-7901. When you call this number, wait for the automated directory to give you directions to reach Nancy Nord’s office. Explain to the Commission that it is simply impossible for libraries to remove all children’s books from the shelves and/or ban children under 12 from the library and still provide the level of service that is needed.”

III. Legislative Day
We need you in Austin, February 25, 2009, for TLA's Legislative Day! This event is crucial to the library community. It is our time to gather and make the case to lawmakers that library funding and issues deserve a priority in state policy.

To register for Legislative Day, members and non-members can go to TLA's event registration page. Select the Legislative Day option and complete the full form. There is no registration fee. If you prefer to fax back a registration form, you can download a PDF form.

If you wish to make a hotel reservation, the Hyatt has informed TLA that some rooms may still be available. To make a reservation, call the Hyatt (512/477-1234 or 800/223-1234) and ask for the Texas Library Association group rate.

This year, we are also adding a special program to TLA's legislative briefings on the afternoon of February 24, 2009. TLA is about to launch the findings of a statewide survey of Texas registered voters and their opinions about public and school libraries. The results are OVERWHELMING in the intense support of Texans for libraries and for increasing funding. We will have a special session devoted to the full findings of the survey and how the survey can be used locally.

Schedule of Events

  • February 24, 2009, 4 to 5 pm: TLA Statewide Poll Overview
  • February 24, 2009, 7 to 9 pm: Delegate Training
  • February 25, 2009 8 am to 5 pm: Visits at the Capitol
  • February 25, 2009 8 am to 9 am: Summary briefing