TLA TEXLINE NO. 238
Posted: February 15, 2009 • LEGISLATIVE ISSUES NETWORK

In this issue:

  1. Legislative Day and Virtual Legislative Day
  2. What We Are Championing This Session!


Legislative Day and Virtual Legislative Day

Mark your calendars for February 24 and 25. TLA’s library Legislative Day is a special, statewide event for “talking up” libraries. We need all library supporters across Texas to make these two days a bonanza of library advocacy.

Given these hard economic times, libraries are needed more than ever. And, our library customers, students, and communities need us to speak up for the incredible role of libraries supporting education, workforce development, and competitive colleges and universities.

We must lead the charge for increasing support for our libraries!

You can participate by coming to Austin for Legislative Day; or if you can’t attend, you can participate in Virtual Legislative Day on February 24 and 25.

Participating in Person: Come and share in the important (and fun) work of visiting the Capitol and making pre-scheduled visits with legislative offices. All the activities are arranged, and participants will work in groups with a delegate leader who will help coordinate each visit.

We’ll have a special training at 7 pm on February 24 at the Hyatt at Lady Bird Lake in Austin. The training will prepare you for visits on Wednesday, February 25. And, for those attending, TLA has completed a new publication that will be given to all participants.

We will also hold a special session at 4 pm, February 24, on TLA’s recent public opinion poll. We’ll cap off events with an informal, no-host gathering at the Austin lobbyist’s haven, Sholtz Garten (where many legislative deals have been reached), on Wednesday at 5:30 pm.

Participating Virtually: Take the time to call your state senator and representative. Tell them about the incredible services your library provides.

Make a commitment to get people writing and communicating about critical statewide issues. Organize a letter-writing campaign. Get your friends groups, students, faculty, and supporters to contact them as well. It is particularly important to have administrators, city or county officials, and parents contact elected officials on behalf of libraries and library users.

Ask a couple of your supporters to send letters-to-the editor on February 24 and 25 about the importance of libraries. TLA will be sending the media information about TLA’s legislative platform and the public opinion survey.

Here are just a couple of the numbers:

  • Texas voters agree public libraries are a good value for the tax dollar (94%, including 70% who strongly agree) and deserve more funding (87%, including 62% who strongly agree).
  • Strong majorities support increasing public funding for both public (81%) and school (82%) libraries. In fact, at least seven in ten voters across every demographic, geographic and political segment support increased funding for both public and school libraries.
  • Nearly all Texans (99% including 84% who strongly agree) believe school libraries are an essential part of the education experience and more than nine in 10 agree (94%) that school librarians are critical to student achievement.

To find out who represents you and how to contact them, go to: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/.

What We Are Championing This Session!

Key library programs are funded through the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC). The agency’s budget includes several “exceptional items,” which represent requests for money in addition to current budgeted levels for the agency and its programs.

Funding Issues and Talking Points

TexShare – Provides library resource sharing and database services to college students/faculty and public library users.

Action Needed: Appropriate $5.25 mil for each year ($10.5 mil over the biennium). See the TSLAC budget (General Government, Article I of the General Appropriations Act).

K-12 Databases – Provide quality online resources for Texas students and teachers.

Action Needed: Appropriate $4 mil for each year ($8 mil over the biennium). See the TSLAC budget (General Government, Article I of the General Appropriations Act).

Loan Star Libraries – A direct aid grant program for public libraries.

Action Needed: Appropriate $4.35 mil for each year ($8.7 mil over the biennium). See the TSLAC budget (General Government, Article I of the General Appropriations Act).

Texas Library Systems – A network of 10 service centers supporting libraries.

Action Needed: Appropriate $2 mil for each year ($4 mil over the biennium). See the TSLAC budget (General Government, Article I of the General Appropriations Act).

TELL THEM that TexShare (for instance) is critical to your library users and give an example of how the resource is used locally and/or a statement about its need. With the economic recession, libraries of all types are needed more than ever; and so, it is vitally important and needed for the state to support library programs that affect millions of people around the state. Be sure to note that TexShare, the K-12 Databases, Loan Star Libraries, and the Regional Library Systems are programs than have a direct impact on local communities, schools, and institutions of higher education. These programs reach constituents statewide.

POLICY ISSUES and TALKING POINTS

  • School Libraries for ALL Students – All Texas children should enjoy equitable access to quality school library programs and the support of certified school librarians. Action Needed: Support legislation ensuring that all Texas students and teachers benefit from the instructional support of a certified school librarian.
  • Purchasing Efficiency – Support HB 962 (Guillen), a bill that clarifies exemptions for the acquisition of library materials at community colleges.
    Action Needed: Support legislation clarifying that community college libraries are entitled to the same purchasing efficiencies as colleges and state universities.

TLA THANKS our Legislative Day sponsors:

EBSCO Information Services
Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.
Lee & Low Books
ProQuest