As controversies go, it would have been difficult to see this one coming. In tiny Mechanicsburg, PA, a pilot seed library in existence for all of four months is now the epicenter of a national discussion among seed traders, growers of organic food, and other agriculture experts after state officials wrote a list of regulations for the fledgling program.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on August 12 appointed Jukay Hsu, founder of the community development organization Coalition for Queens (C4Q), to the Queens Borough Public Library (QL) Board of Trustees. The appointment fills one of eight positions left vacant since July 23, when de Blasio dismissed two of the library’s trustees and Queens Borough President (QBP) Melinda Katz dismissed six.
South Carolina’s public library directors, confident they have the necessary votes in the state legislature locked up, plan to press ahead with efforts to see a library trespass bill adopted into law, even after a recent veto by Gov. Nikki Haley scuttled their hopes, at least temporarily.
Lobbying for libraries can be a painfully earnest affair. But not so in New York State, where the New York Library Association (NYLA) adopted a playful new strategy to reach legislators and their staffs where they may be at their most receptive—relaxing with a drink after work. NYLA didn’t break the rules by buying beverages for lawmakers…it simply provided a coaster for them.
In northern Kentucky this spring, the more things change the more they stay the same for the embattled Campbell (CCPL) and Kenton County Public Libraries (KCPL). After the state General Assembly came close, but ultimately failed to deliver a legislative solution to their longstanding legal woes, the library systems have little recourse except to wait for an appeals court decision that will help determine how they—and potentially the majority of Kentucky libraries—can raise tax revenue.
On April 1, House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his budget proposal for the fiscal year 2015. It would cut five trillion dollars from federal balance sheets in the next decade by making significant cuts to spending on initiatives like Medicare and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps. Among librarians, though, the most controversial cost-saving measure proposed in the Ryan budget might be its elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) entirely, cutting millions in grants to libraries around the country.
President Barack Obama’s $3.9 trillion budget for fiscal year 2015 proposes slight cuts in federal library spending, strongly promotes a variety of early education programs, and funds an ongoing mission to connect students to high-speed Internet in their schools and libraries.
In the wake of a January court ruling that struck down the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) standards for ensuring that Internet traffic is delivered without bias—a standard industry watchers refer to as ‘net neutrality’—the agency has issued a new proposal outlining a new set of rules to ensure Internet users have uncensored access to the full content of the Internet. Some experts, though, don’t think these new rules will be any more enforceable than those overturned earlier this year.
Who would have thought that the United States Congress—after a year filled with gridlock and subsequent political inertia—would end up giving the American people a gift just before Christmas week? As of last week, comprehensive legislation finalizing the federal budget for fiscal year 2014 received final passage from both the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. While generally modest in scope, the mere fact that a piece of fiscal legislation garnered the support of key Democrats and Republicans in Congress represents a significant achievement.
A great deal of my professional life is spent trying to make a body of law from the analog age, the 1976 Copyright Act, fit into the digital world. It is a difficult task, but today I want to discuss a different body of law from the same era—the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), aka the Buckley amendment—and how it can fit with the new activities we are engaged in in the online age.