Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Statement from ALA's Committee on Legislation (COL) 12-12-16

ALA's Committee on Legislation (CoL) issued a statement yesterday, but only to Councilors. See below.

(I also posted it as a comment on the AmLib blog, here: https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/a-message-to-members/#comment-3050273314)


From: "Ewbank, Ann" <ann.ewbank@montana.edu>
Date: December 12, 2016 at 11:35:55 AM MST
To: ALA Council <alacoun@lists.ala.org>
Subject: [alacoun] Committee on Legislation Statement
Reply-To: "Ewbank, Ann" <ann.ewbank@montana.edu>
CoL Statement
In light of the recent discussions among the membership, Council and the Executive Board, the Committee on Legislation (COL) has been asked by the Executive Committee to provide a statement to Council regarding our work.
COL is a committee of ALA Council. COL believes that ALA’s core values (including but not limited to equity, diversity, inclusion, intellectual freedom, and privacy) are best supported by robust federal funding for libraries of all types, policy legislation, and Executive Branch procedures that are in alignment with these core values. Our charge is as follows:
“To have full responsibility for the association's total legislative program on all levels: federal, state, and local. To recommend legislative policy and programs for council approval and to take the necessary steps for implementation. To protest any legislative or executive policy adversely affecting libraries. To seek rulings and interpretations of laws and regulations affecting the welfare and development of libraries. To represent the ALA before the executive and legislative branches of government as required at all levels. To provide a forum within ALA to gather information about needed legislation and to keep all units of the association informed of the ALA legislative programs. To direct the activities of all units of the association in matters relating to legislation.”
Some confusion may exist surrounding the roles of The Office of Government Relations (OGR) and the Washington Office in regard to recent statements issued following the Presidential election. OGR is one of two offices* in the Washington Office, and reports to the Committee on Legislation. OGR is the lobbying arm of the Washington Office and actively lobbies for ALA core values, issues, and policies approved by the ALA Council after being vetted by COL.
COL is in constant, year-round contact with OGR, including an annual retreat, nine hours of meetings at both Annual and Midwinter, monthly conference calls, and regular email communication. Members of COL are thoughtful and deliberate as they vet each policy position and make recommendations to ALA Council and provide direction to OGR.
To this end, OGR, under the direction of ALA policy and COL, works with elected officials on both sides of the aisle, in order to secure positive federal legislation for libraries of all types and to advocate for federal policies that are consistent with ALA’s core values. This includes continuing to lobby for E-rate, LSTA, the Library of Congress, IMLS, ESSA, balanced copyright, privacy protections, and a host of other federal programs and policies that directly impact libraries. Continued and increased support for these programs are vital to libraries’ ability to enact the core values that are expressed by ALA.
Be assured that COL will continue to keep ALA’s core values at the forefront as we make recommendations to ALA Council and provide direction to OGR. We invite all ALA members to join us at our open meetings at any Midwinter and Annual conference. We invite dialogue and questions from ALA members. We thank members who have expressed their thoughts and opinions during this time and ask that members continue to communicate with COL.
We also recommend that library supporters participate in National Library Legislative Day, subscribe to District Dispatch, and respond to Calls for Action around legislation and policy. Our library patrons depend on the services we deliver and we need to make sure those expanding services can continue with positive legislation and policy decisions. And that only comes from very active advocacy on our part. Together we can make a positive impact for libraries of all types.
If you are interested in learning more about the work of COL, please see the following article:
Ewbank, A., Masland, J.T., & Zabriskie, C. (2016). Library issues at the federal level: An introduction to ALA’s Washington Office and the Committee on Legislation. Political Librarian, 2(1), 11-16. http://openscholarship.wustl.e...
Sincerely,
Ann Dutton Ewbank
COL Chair, 2015-2017
*/ The Washington Office also is home to the Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), which is overseen by a non-Council Advisory Committee. COL plays no role in oversight of OITP or its good work.

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