Legislative Update #3 & Armchair BEA Day 3: Expanding Horizons & Short Stories @massbook #ArmchairBEA

Armchair BEA badgeThis post is sticky right now because of the legislative update (updated again June 3). Please scroll down for newer posts!

Today is Day #1 of Book Expo America in real life, but it’s Day #3 of Armchair BEA, the virtual convention for book bloggers all over the world. Expanding Blogging Horizons and Novellas/Short Stories are the two Armchair BEA topics of the day.

In line waiting to get into BEA. Photo credit: Book Expo America
In line waiting to get into BEA. Photo credit: Book Expo America

This blog started out as a way to share book reviews and reading suggestions, but I’ve been trying to expand the scope to include other library-related topics, and especially to share news about the Massachusetts Book Awards and other programs administered by the Massachusetts Center for the Book.

Expanding Blogging Horizons/Library Legislative Update

If you live in Massachusetts, please call or write your state representative and state senator asking for funding support for the Massachusetts Center for the Book  in line item 7000-9508 under the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners section. Legislators need to hear from people in their districts if the Massachusetts Center for the Book is going to survive. There is no other statewide organization trying year-round to bring authors, publishers, bookstores, libraries, and school libraries together into a community of readers.

I’ve posted a couple of times this spring about library legislation and advocacy, and how to help in your state. In the budget passed by the Massachusetts Senate last week, there was good news and bad news for libraries and library advocates. The good news is that the budget line items on the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) legislative agenda did well in the Senate (e.g. state aid to public libraries, statewide e-book project, and network resource sharing.)

The bad news is that if the Senate budget prevails, the Massachusetts Center for the Book is left to rely (again) on less than $30,000 annually for all operating expenses, including salaries, because a budget amendment giving the Center funding of $125,000 to operate in FY2015 did not pass. A budget amendment funding the Center with $125,000 for the year passed in the House (Thank you, state representatives and sponsor of the amendment, Rep. Kate Hogan (D-Stow)!) and was recommended favorably by the Senate Ways and Means Committee, but the same amendment sponsored by Sen. Kenneth Donnelly (D-Arlington) was rejected in the full Senate vote.

At this point in the state budget process, the House and Senate are in the budget conference phase to hammer out a compromise budget, the Massachusetts Center for the Book needs to see some serious love from state legislators  – in the form of funding for FY2015. The budget conference committee – three members from the House and three from the Senate – has been formed, and the committee members are:

Rep. Brian Dempsey
Rep. Stephen Kulik
Rep. Vinny deMacedo
Sen. Stephen Brewer
Sen. Jennifer Flanagan
Sen. Richard Ross

A sample letter or phone call to your own rep and senator asking for support for the Center for the Book in addition to the statewide library-related line items might include the following talking points:

The Massachusetts Center for the Book has been working in the commonwealth for fifteen years.  It is endorsed by the Massachusetts Library Association.  It has the backing of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. The Center has made its case and received favorable votes in the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development.  A line item was created for the Center and funded at 50% of its request during House deliberations.  Please don’t let the Senate be the reason the Center closes up shop – ending the state’s long-running participation in national programs such as Letters About Literature and the National Book Festival or the statewide Massachusetts Book Awards.

The Center is one of 52 state centers for the book (the +2 being in DC and the US Virgin Islands) working as the state affiliate of a federal agency, the Library of Congress, and as an integral part of our own state library community.  It does statewide (and national) programming in support of books, reading, lifelong literacy, and libraries, and is one of only a handful of state centers for the book that are unsupported by the states in which they operate.

I hope to hear from your office that you will support and advance the case for funding Massachusetts Center for the Book during the budget conference phase.

Please write or call!

Novellas/Short Stories

The Armchair BEA topic of the day is novellas and short stories. Some fairly recent notable novellas I’ve read are On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. (Do women not write novellas, or am I just forgetting them?)

But what I want to talk about to day is Selected Shorts. Actors read contemporary and classic short stories to live audiences – usually at Symphony Space in NYC, but sometimes the show travels around to other venues.

You can hear Selected Shorts for free online or via podcast. Check out the current episode at Public Radio International here.

Guest host Hope Davis introduces Alice Munro’s “The Moons of Jupiter,” in which a woman caring for her ailing father reflects on her own life and his. The reader is Oscar winner Holly Hunter. In Ursula K. Le Guin’s “She Unnames Them,” read by Joanna Gleason, Eve makes some changes in Paradise.

Listen to the five most recent Selected Shorts programs here.

The long-time host of Selected Shorts, Isaiah Sheffer, died in November 2012. Recordings from his many years with Selected Shorts are still heard on air and in the podcast.

This post is linked up to Armchair BEA Day 3. Check it out other bloggers’ posts for more on the topics of Expanding Blogging Horizons and/or Novellas/Short Stories.

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5 thoughts on “Legislative Update #3 & Armchair BEA Day 3: Expanding Horizons & Short Stories @massbook #ArmchairBEA”

  1. I hope everything works out with the library, and while I don’t really read short stories, these sound like some amazing titles, though I probably won’t be picking them up. I’m sure there are some novella women writers around here somewhere!

  2. Good luck with the advocacy – I hope things go well!

    I love short fiction, and I have read a lot of it, but not nearly as regularly as I should. Women definitely write novellas! Sarah Orne Jewett, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Virginia Wool fare the first few who come to mind, but there are many more. Shirley Jackson, of course! Sarah Orne Jewett’s novella, The Country of the Pointed Firs, is great. Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room, among others…and Edith Wharton (Ethan Frome, Summer, etc.). I could go through my shelves and find plenty more, I’m sure. Don’t discount the ladies. 😉

    1. I should have thought of Shirley Jackson! I guess I was thinking of more recent novellas, but I shouldn’t forget about the classics, or the ladies!

  3. Okie dokie! Just sent two emails – didn’t even read on to see that you offered up a nice letter to use. Oh well.

    I was short and to the point.

Would love to have you comment!