Missouri libraries last week celebrated the long-awaited–and surprising–news that Gov. Jay Nixon was releasing almost $6 million in FY15 state aid that had previously been withheld since June, an abrupt resolution to a stalemate that spawned a growing statewide lobbying effort.
At Illinois’s 99th General Assembly on February 29, State Representative Peter Breen (R-District 48) introduced House Bill 2689, which would create the Internet Screening in Public Libraries Act (ISPLA). The act provides that every public library in the state of Illinois must have a “technology protection measure,” such as filtering software, in place on all public computers “to prevent the display on a public computer of any visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors.” The library may disable the technology on request for an adult engaged in legitimate research. ISPLA contains no definition of “legitimate research.”
In a significant victory for supporters of Net Neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today reclassified broadband Internet as a public utility, and established a new Open Internet Order that applies to both fixed and mobile broadband. The new Open Internet Order includes three “bright line” rules, specifically banning broadband providers from blocking access to legal content, applications, and services; impairing access to content, applications, and services; and prioritizing Internet traffic in exchange for “consideration of any kind.”
On February 1 the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) hosted a session at the ALA Midwinter meeting in Chicago to answer the question, “What is a policy revolution anyway?” The answer: the Policy Revolution! Initiative (PRI)— the exclamation point is important, panelists advised—is a three-year grant-funded program to advance library policy at the national level, led by ALA OITP and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA), with guidance from a Library Advisory Committee.
Eager to promote strategic priorities for 2015, officials for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) trained a spotlight on the various federal funding resources available through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) during a recent American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter session in Chicago. At a talk entitled, “All Eyes on IMLS: Funding Priorities and Reauthorization,” IMLS Acting Director Maura Marx and Robin Dale, the associate deputy director for state programs, outlined the scope and focus of LSTA’s grants to states and other discretionary spending for libraries.
On January 15, 2015, Susan H. Hildreth completed her four-year term as director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Under her leadership, IMLS provided nearly $1 billion in support to libraries and museums, with a strong emphasis on early learning, STEM-related projects, and connectivity in libraries across the country. Prior to her tenure at IMLS, Hildreth served as Seattle City Librarian, California State Librarian, and San Francisco City Librarian. On March 1, she will return to California, her “adopted home state,” to serve as executive director of three linked organizations: the Peninsula Library System, a consortium of public and community college libraries in San Mateo; the Pacific Library Partnership, a California Library Services Act system; and Califa, a nonprofit membership cooperative that provides services and programs to libraries throughout California.
Bringing apparent closure to a months-long fight for control of the Queens Library (QL) Board of Trustees, Judge Frederic Block of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Wednesday November 26 dismissed Arrington et al v. Katz, a lawsuit filed in August by six former QL trustees against Queens Borough President (QBP) Melinda Katz and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
California has become the first state to mandate open access for the products of some taxpayer-funded research. On September 29 Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act, coauthored by Assemblyman Brian Nestande (R–Palm Desert) and Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D–Los Angeles). AB 609, as the bill is known, ensures that those who stand to benefit most from state-funded research, such as healthcare providers, students and professors, biotech professionals, and anyone with an interest in the field, will have access to current research results free of charge. Beginning January 1, 2015, the products of more than $200 million in annual research paid for by California taxpayers will be freely available—with some restrictions: AB 609 applies only to research funded by the Department of Public Health.
In the wake of accusations that suspended Queens Library (QL) president and CEO Thomas W. Galante mishandled library funds, Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D–Queens) proposed legislation on October 21 that would require all three of New York’s public library systems to publicly disclose how their money is spent.