The Massachusetts Center for the Book was re-funded on July 30 thanks to emergency sessions of the state House and Senate, after Governor Charlie Baker had completely defunded the Center and slashed budgets for several other educational and cultural organizations. Funding to the Massachusetts Cultural Center was also restored, as was the Local Aid to Public Libraries line item.
Thanks to the joint efforts of a student group and university librarians at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, with a push from the American Library Association (ALA), the Library of Congress (LC) announced on March 22 that it would remove the term “Illegal alien” from the LC Subject Heading (LCSH) system, replacing it with “Noncitizen” and, to describe the act of residing without authorization, “Unauthorized immigration.” Per LC’s executive summary, the proposed change will be posted on a “Tentative List” for comments “not earlier than May, 2016.” Ultimately the heading “Illegal aliens” will become a “former heading” reference, cross-referenced with the new terminology; other headings that include the phrase will also be revised or canceled. This decision currently stands despite recent backlash: members of the U.S. House of Representatives have voted to attach language to a funding bill which would require LC to switch back to the original term, but the bill is not yet law.
Update: The Library of Congress has posted a survey where the public can share their views on the proposed changes, and will accept comments through July 20.
From the moment the North Carolina General Assembly passed the Public Facilities Privacy and Security act, also known as HB2, reaction was forceful and articulate. Educators, librarians, and library leaders from public, academic, and school libraries and library organizations across the country, for whom inclusivity is a crucial part of their institutions’ mission, added their voices criticizing the bill’s passage and supporting those it affects.
North Carolina’s adoption of the so-called “bathroom bill” (House Bill 2, also known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act) on March 23 has been rightly denounced for building bias and discrimination into state law and barring cities from extending protections for transgender individuals. It should go without saying that wholesale bigotry against members of a group is unacceptable and unconstitutional. This legislation is a travesty and an assault on our civil liberties.
Kansas library professionals, forced to mobilize quickly and using social media to rally support and spread their message, convinced lawmakers to remove language from a fast-tracked tax bill that they said threatened the survival of the state’s seven regional systems and, in turn, promised a trickle-down reduction in services for public libraries.
On Monday, February 29, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law a bill that would authorize the enlistment of outside parties—collection agencies, or, in some cases, the police—to help recover late fees, fines, and unreturned materials for that state’s libraries, a problem that reportedly cost $3.5 million in the last year alone.
In Michigan, a new law that if signed by the governor will restrict the sharing of ballot information prior to voting has alarmed librarians and allies, who are calling for action. In a surprising last-minute vote on December 16 in Lansing, the Michigan house and senate acted in concert to send several bills to Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI). Among them was an amended version of Senate Bill 571, a finance reform measure, which included new language prohibiting libraries and other public resources from transmitting information about local ballot initiatives for 60 days prior to an election.
Librarians have MUCH to be proud of in the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The long-awaited rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, most recently also known as No Child Left Behind) sailed though both the Senate and House to arrive in front of President Obama, making it one of the few signs of functional bipartisanship in a rough year for getting stuff done on the hill. As the president signed ESSA into law on December 10, he referred to its arrival as “a Christmas miracle.”
A bill that would place every library in Nebraska under the direct control of its city rather than a board of trustees is likely to be considered by that state’s legislature this winter, state senator Tyson Larson (R-40) told LJ. Such a bill, if passed and signed into law, would give municipalities of every size the power to manage library budgets, set hours, and hire and fire directors.