Tag Archives: Advocacy

Save the Dates! Library Legislative Day

Pflheart-logoI love to talk about libraries!

Libraries stand alone in the service we provide. We give books to people. We give them research articles. We give them access to computers and other technology. We give them our expertise in working with information. We give them programs. We give them training. We get them ready for college. We teach them how to do research. We train them to know the real meaning of “fake news.”

The value of libraries can be calculated qualitatively: the quality of the materials and services we provide is phenomenal. The “how does this feel?” test will generally blow the positive end off the charts: libraries “feel” great, most people like us, and even just hearing about the assorted stuff we do is enough to impress most people.

But our quantitative value is also pretty darn impressive! There have been a bunch of studies calculating the ROI (Return On Investment) of libraries. These are most frequently done on public libraries, but my moderately-expert opinion on this is that the general results would likely carry over to all types of libraries. These public library studies show that for every $1 invested in public libraries, value returned varies from a “mere” $2.97 in Suffolk County, New York, to $10.18 in Florida public libraries.

CMLE is working to develop a broad-spectrum advocacy program, to help our libraries tell their story,  and to let their funders know about the amazing value. I love to brag about the great things going on in our libraries – and it’s not just Central Minnesota, libraries all over the place are just so impressive!

And of course, I am not alone in wanting to talk about libraries!

The Minnesota Library Association (MLA) organizes Library Legislative Day each year. This year, it is Tuesday, March 6.

Want more info about this? Check out this MLA/ITEM Legislative Legwork Commitee site – new this year with a TON of great info!! If you have ever wanted to know even the smallest detail of what it’s like to go to Legislative Day (spoiler: it’s fun!), it is here!

We have had a great turnout from public libraries, and their board members, attending and advocating with our legislators for libraries across the state. Thanks, everyone who helps libraries!!!

This year, I want to see if additional other library people can come and talk about your libraries.

If there is interest across CMLE, we can organize a group visit for members.  I would make appointments with our legislators, and we would all go as a group. Generally, these are pretty quick – maybe 15 minutes, so there is not a lot of time to get our message out. But it might be fun, and it might be helpful to legislators to see all these different library people coming to advocate for library support and funding.

Let us know if you might be interested in coming to St. Paul on Mar. 6 to talk about libraries! And of course, we also suggest you mail postcards to legislators and stakeholders, or send quick emails to tell them how valuable their support is and the great things your library is doing with that support. Don’t hesitate to give any legislator a quick phone call, and just say thanks for the support and tell them about a service you provide or  a patron you helped.


Here is the info from the MLA Legislative Committee:

Plan to attend Library Legislative Day to tell your legislators about the importance of libraries! This is a great year to attend if you have always wanted to go, but haven’t made the leap! More info to follow! But, in the meantime, mark your calendars:
March 5, 2018
Library Legislative Day Briefing
Roseville Library
Registration opens in January.
  • 5-6pm-Briefing
  • 6pm Optional dinner groups. Watch for more info & registration.
March 6, 2018
Library Legislative Day
L’Etoile du Nord (Room B-15, State Capitol)
Registration opens in January.
  • Detailed agenda available soon
  • Legislative Day Briefing (same as March 5)
  • Schedule your legislative visits
  • Library Info Fair (10-3pm)

And, if you want to plan far ahead:

August 8, 2018
Annual Legislative Forum
Brookdale Library
Registration opens in June 2018.

Contest: Minnesota Libraries Transform Because . . .

Transformation at Future Perfect

Check out this cool contest from MLA!!

“Because 5 out of 5 Doctors Agree Reading Aloud to Children Supports Brain Development
Because Today’s Gamer Could Be Tomorrow’s Inventor
Because 5 Million Students Can’t Access Broadband at Home

Have you seen statements like this up at your local library or on social media? They’re part of the American Libraries Association Libraries Transform campaign, and they’re designed to increase awareness of the value, impact, and services provided by libraries and library staff.

As we prepare to advocate for Minnesota libraries in the coming year, we’re proposing a Minnesota spin on the Libraries Transform initiative and would like to create several uniquely Minnesota “Because” statements. We’re seeking submissions from library supporters, and these statements can be about the services and value you see in any type of library (public, academic, school, government, and others). Your submissions will be collected and used for virtual library legislative week in Minnesota, March 5-9th, 2018. One lucky winner will receive a large print of your Minnesota Libraries Transform Because statement.

How to Submit

  • Deadline to submit is Friday, February 2nd, 2018
  • On Twitter, use the hashtag #MnLibrariesTransform
    • Format example: Because audiobooks turn snowy commutes into adventures #mnlibrariesstransform
  • Submit online: https://goo.gl/forms/0mpPTQ5XtyyzbRYQ2

Need ideas? Take a look at the statements that ALA has created:

More Information

The contest is sponsored by the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) Legislative Working Group and the Information and Technology Educators of Minnesota (ITEM). More information about library legislative activities in 2018 can be found on the MLA website: https://mnlibraryassociation.site-ym.com/?LegislativeCommittee#documents


Senators introduce bipartisan Museum and Library Services Act of 2017

Seal of the United States SenateTake a moment to contact your Senator and remind her how important libraries are!!

From the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS):

“Acknowledging the critical role of libraries as anchor institutions in communities across the nation, a group of senators under the leadership of Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the bipartisan Museum and Library Services Act of 2017 (S. 2271). IMLS logo

The 2017 MLSA reauthorizes the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), showing congressional support for the federal agency. IMLS administers funding through the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA), the only federal program that exclusively covers services and funding for libraries. The LSTA provides more than $183 million for libraries through the Grants to States program, the National Leadership Grants for Libraries, the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, and Native American Library Services.

To be clear, S. 2271 would not ensure full funding* for the programs libraries depend on. Reauthorization of the MLSA is not necessary for IMLS to receive funding: the last MLSA expired in 2016. Rather, S. 2271 would authorize IMLS to continue to exist and give direction about how the agency should operate. Passage of this reauthorization bill would signal that Congress values libraries and supports the mission of IMLS. As ALA President Jim Neal expressed it,

“Today’s introduction of the bipartisan MLSA reauthorization is the first critical step toward ensuring federal support for our nation’s nearly 120,000 libraries. LSTA grants enable libraries in every state to innovate and meet the growing demand for services that meet the needs of our communities.”

The 2017 MLSA continues to support the stated mission of IMLS to inspire libraries to “advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement.” It largely mirrors the previous authorization, with some improvements. After considerable input from library professionals across the country, ALA’s Washington Office worked closely with the bill’s lead cosponsors to include numerous recommendations in the legislation such as:

  • explicit allowance for grant funds to be used to help libraries prepare for and provide services after a disaster or emergency;
  • greater use of data-driven tools to measure the impact and maximize the effectiveness of library services; and
  • additional provisions to enable more Native American tribes to participate in IMLS grant programs.

Today’s introduction of the MLSA gives a clear and timely opportunity for each one of our elected federal leaders to show unequivocally their support for libraries.

ALA’s Washington Office encourages you to use the action center to contact your senators and ask them to cosponsor S. 2271. In your emails and calls to senators, tell them how LSTA funds enable your library to offer valuable services to your community. Invite them to visit your library to see for themselves the difference you are making in people’s lives. Ultimately, it is your story and your voice that will persuade your elected leaders to show their support for libraries and cosponsor the MLSA of 2017.

* ALA members have defended funding for IMLS at every turn throughout the appropriations process in 2017, beginning with the administration’s March budget recommendation to effectively eliminate IMLS. That proposal was rejected by House and Senate Appropriators, with both chambers recommending robust funding for IMLS (although final funding bills have not passed Congress). We will aggressively continue our advocacy to fund libraries in the new year. In the meantime, our strategy is to gain cosponsors for MLSA in the Senate and work with representatives to introduce companion legislation in the House.”

Join us Tuesday: Postcard Party and Library Chatting!

We are looking forward to chatting with you about libraries and other fun stuff! And we will give you postcards and library facts to use to send postcards to your stakeholders.

The goal behind our Postcard Parties is to share the value of libraries with legislators and other library stakeholders who may not hear enough about the incredible work that takes place in libraries. It’s up to us to let them know how important libraries are!

We are looking forward to our advocacy Postcard Party coming up on Tuesday, December 19th from 3-5pm at the Local Blend coffee shop in St. Joseph! We’ll chat, have snacks, and write out postcards to library stakeholders!

We want to make this as pain-free for you as possible, so CMLE will supply the postcards, library facts, addresses for state and federal legislators (feel free to bring your own addresses for your library’s stakeholders), and sample text of what to write on your postcard. Plus, we’ll mail all the postcards at the end!

Hope to see you there! RSVP below:

If you like your internet access, now is the time to say so!

We are very interested in library advocacy here at CMLE HQ, and we know that not everyone feels comfortable speaking up to their stakeholders, legislators, or community members about the great work you do in libraries.

But: this is important.

The FCC is getting ready to vote on whether to end net neutrality.


Yeah, that’s right. Some guy who used to work for Verizon is now going to get to decide whether you have to pay Verizon to access the internet. Let that sink in for a moment – then absolutely return to freaking the heck out!

Network neutrality symbol

You’ve heard these words before – they are all over the news and social media. It sounds like one of those complicated issues that would be okay to just nod and say “Oh, yeah, sure – that stuff” and go on with your day.


In a very brief nutshell, net neutrality means that we can access the Internet any way we want. We can zip around and look at stuff we like. We can choose what sites we look at, and what we do there. While speed is not always perfect, at least it does chug along pretty quickly. Remember accessing the Internet back in the 90s? When an image would load a pixel or a line at a time on your screen?? I DON’T WANT TO GO BACK TO THE DARK AGES!!!

Ending net neutrality means that Verizon or AT&T or Spectrum (or a similar company) now owns your access to the Internet.

I have a Verizon phone. It’s fine. I use it to look at Google several dozen times a day. But!! Verizon owns Yahoo. If Verizon owns my access to the Internet, they can easily (oh, so easily) announce that everyone on Verizon’s cell coverage is now using Yahoo.

  • You want Google? Neat. That costs extra.
  • And of course, Google also owns YouTube; so you want to watch a YouTube video? That costs extra.
  • Does your school use Google Classroom or Google Docs? You aren’t getting to that on a Verizon connection!
  • Maybe your school works out a deal with Google (who doesn’t currently provide Internet service) to provide Internet service to you at work. Great. But are you at home and need to do some work? Not on a Spectrum connection – without an extra fee.

This is just one teeny example of what will happen if companies suddenly own your ability to access the Internet.

Take a moment to think how much further this will go – and then absolutely freak out. Because it’s worse than whatever you are thinking.

Remember life 20 years ago? We didn’t have constant Internet access. But life has changed! How many of us bank online – and may have to pay AT&T to get access to our money or to pay our bills? How many of us download books to listen to in the car? How many people stream really fun podcasts? Who depends on Amazon to deliver great stuff to you? Or Spotify to bring great music to you? How many of you email your family? Update your Facebook page with photos of kids and pets so your friends can keep up? Anyone play games on your phone? Have Google reading you turn by turn directions when you drive someplace new? Get access to the latest research for academic papers? Read your news online? Anyone using Duolingo to learn a new language? Anyone slightly addicted to the 24/7 live stream of the Kitten Academy?? (it’s not just me, right??) Maybe you want to watch Netflix or Hulu – but Spectrum owns your access to the Internet, and they have no economic interest in you leaving their cable channels. You might be able to get to Netflix, but it may t a k e a r e a l l y l o o o o o n g t i m e t o g e t s o m e t h i n g.

Think about the work you do every day. What do patrons do in your library? How much of it involves being able to access the internet?

This is not fantasy. This is already happening in other countries. Today. Now.

You need net neutrality for yourself.

You need net neutrality for your library.

You need net neutrality for your community.

But, you ask:

It’s shockingly simple.

You go tell the FCC how much this will damage you, your library, your patrons, and your community. Or, just pick one of those things. The important thing is to GO SAY SOMETHING!!

Where do you do this shocking simple thing??

WEBSITE: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings/express

Open that link on a computer, not a mobile device.

I’m there! Now what???

  • They ask for a proceedings number. This is: 17-108.
  • Type your name. (All government forms ask for this; hopefully it keeps down the spam bots.)
  • Type your address (I used my work address. I had to look it up, and that was the toughest part of the whole process)

I’m in the groove! What do I say??

Speak from your heart. Identify yourself as a library employee, if you want to. Tell them about a patron who used the internet today to find a wonderful book, to access their veteran’s benefits, to talk with their grand-kids who live across the country. Tell them about the training you do to help people use the Internet. Tell them how much you love accessing any site that makes you happy.

Remember to ask for the specific thing you want: Free and fast access to the Internet!!

ACK!!! I got scared!! It sounded hard!!! I didn’t do anything!! NOW WHAT??

Deep breath in; deep breath out.

Just go back and follow the directions. Share your voice. Be heard! Speak for your community.

What is at stake here???

Verizon, AT&T, Spectrum – these companies depend on us getting scared, or assuming someone else will handle it so that everything turns out okay.

They have lots of high priced lobbyists who cheerfully offer to write regulations that make them rich. It’s their jobs. Neat in some situations; but here that just means one thing: “Give us money or you get nothing. Enjoy your blocked and throttled Internet libraries!! You guys don’t have big budgets to pay us, so good luck with whatever scraps we throw to you!”

(I’m paraphrasing. But that is the message, if not the exact wording.)

You don’t have high priced lobbyists. You just have us. We just have you.

No pressure here, but…the fate of library service as you know it depends on a free access to the Internet.

So, yeah. It’s kind of a big deal.

If you contact legislators and stakeholders all the time: excellent. Tell them about your feelings on net neutrality.

If you have never contacted a legislator, or never wanted to raise your voice, or to get involved – this is not the time to be shy or neutral. We need you. You need the Internet. (How else are you going to read these fun blog posts? Or download our Books and Beverages book group podcast???)

Why are you still here????


(Then, forward this post to every single person you know!!!)


Award yourself one Official Superhero point for helping to save the Internet for us all!



We support libraries!