Library advocates swarmed the Massachusetts State House yesterday, March 31, for Library Legislative Day. It’s a day to recognize and thank legislators who do so much to support libraries across the state, and to ask for support for library-related budget line items and proposed legislation this year.
The weather didn’t cooperate, so instead of this:
We had this:
But inside the State House, we were all thinking sunny thoughts as speaker after speaker talked about the importance of libraries – not for books alone, but for Internet access, meeting room space, reading material for blind or vision-impaired residents, business research, legal research, literacy programs, and more.
Massachusetts Center for the Book Executive Director Sharon Shaloo spoke about the dire need of funding for the Center, which was formed in 2000 and charged with developing outreach and partnership between libraries and other communities, such as booksellers, publishers, and authors, to increase the outreach potential of Massachusetts libraries. She asked for support for Bill H.3292, sponsored by library caucus leader Rep. Kate Hogan, to make the Center a public-private partnership, in this legislative session. The bill is currently with the House Ways & Means Committee, so the committee members are the legislators to contact now, to ask them to vote the bill out of committee so it can be voted on and passed during this legislative session.
On the bright side, Sharon announced that the Massachusetts Book Award judges have chosen the Must-Read finalists for 2014. The list will be up on the Massachusetts Center for the Book home page this week; winners will be announced at the Massachusetts Library Conference. [Update: View the list of 2014 Massachusetts Must-Reads here.]
Many school libraries in Massachusetts are no longer staffed by librarians, so children in some schools are losing out on the school library experience. Speaker Kendall Boninti, winner of the Super Librarian Accolade, pleaded for support for Bill S.1906 to study school libraries, saying the bill “asks a very simple question: ‘What does a good school library look like?'” The bill is currently in the Senate Ways & Means Committee, so it needs to be voted on there and then voted on by the Senate.
Massachusetts School Library Association (MSLA) awarded prizes for the 2014 Bookmark Contest at the State House yesterday, and the talented young artists came with their families and school librarians to receive their awards, meet their representatives, and tour the State House. Author Carolyn DeChristofano gave signed copies of her book, A Black Hole Is Not a Hole, to the first-place winners in each age group.
The winning bookmarks were on display:
Senate Majority Leader Stanley Rosenberg was given a standing ovation when he received the 2014 Advocacy Award. When he spoke, he reminded the audience that Massachusetts was home to the first public library in America.
Sponsor of Bill S.1906 to study Massachusetts public school libraries, Sen. Ken Donnelly joked that he’s still trying to make up for being banned from the Robbins Library in Arlington for rowdy behavior as a youth.
House Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad, a library supporter, advised advocates to “share stories” with legislators. “Make them feel it.” She shared her own story about the library being the only place she was allowed to go to on her own, so she gave requests for research material to the reference librarian all the time, sending her deep into the stacks so she could kiss her boyfriend unobserved.
Rep. Kate Hogan speaking passionately about the need for library funding, said, “Investing in libraries is the same as investing in our democracy.”
For details on how to advocate for libraries in Massachusetts, or in your own state, check out this post, and dial that phone!