TLA TEXLINE NO. 234
Posted: February 06, 2009 • LEGISLATIVE ISSUES NETWORK

In this issue:

  1. Federal Stimulus Plan
  2. Consumer Product Safety Commission (Stay of Implementation)
  3. Legislative Day

Federal Stimulus Plan: The American Library Association has sent out the following information and is urging library supporters to contact their senators.


Please ask Sens. Hutchison and Cornyn to amend S.1, Page 396, line 13 to read as follows (adding “public libraries” to the text):
SEC. 1402. STATE USES OF FUNDS.
(b) OTHER GOVERNMENT SERVICE- The Governor may use up to 39 percent of the State's allocation under section 1401 for public safety and other government services, which may include assistance for elementary and secondary education, public institutions of higher education and public libraries.

To contact Sens. Hutchison and Cornyn, go to ALA’s federal resource center at http://capwiz.com/ala/mail/compose/?&azip=78746&mailid=custom
ADDITIONAL TALKING POINTS How libraries help Americans struggling in this hard economic time:
Every day across the country, libraries are meeting the needs of their communities by providing a broad range of services for people of all ages and backgrounds. The public library plays an even more important role as Americans face tough economic times. Patrons are visiting their library for more than borrowing free books, movies, CDs and attending free reading programs.
Nationwide, recent statistics show that last year, libraries hosted more than 1.3 billion visits and circulated more than 2 billion items. Studies have shown that in times of economic downturn, libraries become even busier. For example, foot traffic at Montgomery County (Maryland) libraries is up 41% for the third quarter of 2008, compared to the same period last year. Participation in library programs for children and adults jumped 24%, from 75,000 to 93,000 last year at the Sacramento Public Library. Internet use at the Nashville Public Library has grown so much that 9 of every 10 libraries in the county have been forced to institute session time limits on their computers to meet demand.
Libraries offer their communities access to computers and the Internet, financial literacy skills, assistance with job searches, and resources to help small businesses.
Libraries across the country are providing free public access to computers and the Internet in some of our most distressed communities. According to a recent report released by the American Library Association entitled, "Libraries Connect Communities: Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study 2007-2008," 73% of all libraries nationwide report they are the only provider of free Internet access in their communities. In rural areas, the role of the public library is even more critical as 83 percent of libraries are the only free Internet provider. As a result, many libraries have begun reporting double-digit growth in computer usage in 2008.
The challenges facing libraries:
As libraries are facing a decrease in funding, they are expected to provide an increase in service to the public. Public libraries are facing severe cutbacks as budget shortfalls hit cities towns and rural areas across the country. Libraries across the country are cutting hours and services, and some are even facing the threat of closure at a time when their support is needed most.
For funding, many public libraries depend on local property taxes, which have gone down roughly 3 percent, according to the National League of Cities.
The need for stimulus funding for libraries: Libraries provide an impressive array of services that are critical to the communities they serve, but the underlying support needed to maintain and improve these services has been lagging for many U.S. public libraries.
ALA's recommendation for stimulus funding seeks support for basic library services across the country as well as specialized assistance to help Americans deal with the current economic crisis and get America back to work. How stimulus funding would be used:
  • Develop national license for electronic employment aids, including resume writing and practice certification tests
  • Expand critical employment activities and services such as resume development, job bank web searches and career planning workshops, and skills training;
  • Reinstate or supplement evening and weekend hours of operation at libraries to provide the greatest possible access to services;
  • Acquire additional resources and materials to help keep up with increased demand for economic services nationwide.
  • Build and renovate library buildings
Consumer Product Safety Commission The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a one-year stay of implementation on rules which would have forced libraries to conduct physical testing of children’s books and might have led to the removal of vast quantities of children’s materials from libraries. The stay of implementation means the legislation will not be implemented until February 10, 2010.

The American Library Association notes that the stay is not a long-term solution, but it does prevent libraries from needing to pull books from library shelves in a little over a week. Library supporters are encouraged to contact members of Congress to ensure they direct the CPSC to exempt books from the CPSIA. While the CPSC does have the authority to interpret the legislation to exclude books, they will not do so without Congressional intervention.

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 access a PDF form online.

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