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Congress in Recess… Connect with Them at Home!

Dear Library Advocates,Congress is in recess this week, so this is an excellent time to connect with your Representative or Senators while they’re back home. Simply call the district office to either make an appointment or to learn the schedule of town hall meetings or forums. Also invite your Member of Congress to tour your library to see for themselves the positive contributions libraries are making in their communities.

Ask some questions or bring information about your library and library issues to any town hall meetings or forums. This is one way to re-enforce the “Library Message” with each Member of Congress. Paint a picture of how key federal legislative issues will impact your library and your library constituents. And, while you’re at it you can remind them that your local library could be a place to schedule their next Town Hall meeting!

Have fun — remember it’s recess!

Key Messages

  • Save School Libraries!
  • Preserve Civil Liberties in FISA Reform
  • Include Libraries in ‘Farm Bill’ Telecom Program

Save School Libraries!

Ensure the inclusion of the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLs) Act in the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). This is the single most important piece of legislation concerning school libraries that will come before Congress this year. Reauthorization of this bill is critical to the future of school libraries.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will be considering reauthorization of NCLB when Congress returns from recess. In order for the SKILLs Act to be included in NCLB — that is, to place a state-certified school library media specialist in every school — each member of the Senate must co-sponsor the SKILLS Act.

Ask Senators to contact either Senate HELP Committee Chairman Ted Kennedy (D-MA) or Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY) to express the importance of the SKILLS Act of is included in NCLB reauthorization. If your Senators’ names DO appear already on this bill, contact and thank them for the continued support of school libraries and school library media specialists.

Preserve Civil Liberties in FISA Reform

The House of Representatives will be considering the Senate version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) reform legislation, FISA Amendments Act (S. 2248), when House members return from recess next week. Ask them to continue to support any amendments to preserve civil liberties in S. 2248, OR oppose the entire Senate bill until they can find the proper balance between privacy-civil liberties and the government’s expansive needs to conduct surveillance and investigations into terrorism.

The House bill – the RESTORE Act (H.R. 3773) – which passed late last Fall, should, ideally, also be amended to better protect against the civil liberties threats in the Protect America Act, passed in August 2007. While the language in H.R. 3773 is preferable to the Senate language in S. 2248, the debate has not ended and there is still opportunity to bring better balance to these new FISA proposals.

Include Libraries in ‘Farm Bill’ Telecom Program

Ask Farm Bill Conferees to Keep Libraries in Rural Telecommunications Section of H.R. 2419

or Those With Senators and Representatives on Agriculture Committees:

Ask all Members of both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to support the Senate version of the Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007 (H.R. 2419), Section 6302, to include “libraries” in the rural telecommunications program: “Telemedicine, Library Connectivity, and Distance Learning Services in Rural Areas.” The conference committee on H.R. 2419 is meeting now and library supporters are needed to keep messages going into the conferees. This will be a high priority when Congress returns from recess.

For Other Library Supporters:

Contact all of your respective Senators and Representatives and ask them to contact Farm Bill conferees to keep libraries in Section 6302.

More information available here.

Got any questions about our issues — or about advocating at the federal level? Feel free to call us at the ALA Office of Government Relations (OGR). Call toll-free: 1-800-941-8478. And, we’ll look for your comments on this blog, too!

Lynne Bradley
Director, ALA Office of Government Relations (OGR)

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Lynne Bradley

Lynne Bradley is a former member of the Washington Office government relations team.

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