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House-passed bill highlights role of community college libraries

Community college libraries were included in the House-passed Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 (H.R. 3221) late last week — a true victory for libraries, considering the original bill did not include them.

At first glance, one might wonder why libraries should be interested in a bill that by its title implies it deals with student aid and related financial issues for post-secondary education funding.  However, the bill as introduced established two new competitive grant programs providing states and junior and community colleges the opportunity to apply for funds to launch initiatives to improve graduation and employment-related outcomes.

ALA sought the opportunity to promote the role of community college library services by ensuring they were explicitly spelled out in Section 503 in the bill language titled, “Grants to Eligible Entities for Community College Reform.”

As we stated in our press release issued in response to the passage of the bill, “The original bill language did not explicitly include community college libraries as potential recipients of the grants, which the ALA believes is essential for highlighting the important role libraries play in preparing students to successfully obtain and retain employment and for encouraging community colleges pursuing the grants to invest in their libraries and the services and resources they offer.”

Members of the ALA Washington Office, the Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and leaders from community college libraries worked quickly to craft suggested language and then advocate for its inclusion so that it would call attention to the important role community college libraries play on campuses across the country. We were appreciative of Rep. Grijalva (AZ) for championing an amendment on behalf of our community college libraries to get the language into the bill.  As such, the ALA thanked him and his staff for their great work.

The ALA Washington Office staff is continuing to lobby Senate staff to incorporate community college libraries language into the Senate version of the bill currently being drafted.

Corey Williams
Associate Director
Office of Government Relations

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