On May 7-8, 2018 Erin MacFarlane, Legislative Committee Chair, traveled to Washington, DC, to participate in ALA’s annual Library Legislative Day. This year Hilary Fox from Gale/Cengage joined the Arizona delegation. Lobby groups from each of the fifty states visited Capitol Hill to advocate for library funding and legislation.
ALA asked each state delegation to focus on two main talking points. The Museum and Library Services Act of 2017 (S.2271) is bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Representative Grijalva of Arizona is expected to introduce a companion bill in the House later this year. This Act allows libraries to continue to use LSTA funds to develop and implement programs in their communities. ALA also focused on the essential role libraries play in ensuring access for all to broadband and technology. Only 60% of households in Arizona have internet in the home. Libraries ensure the other 40% have access to fast, free internet, and can build necessary digital skills.
ALA policy staffers singled out Arizona to speak specifically to the Tribal Connect Act (S.2205). The intention of this legislation is to help tribal communities obtain access to broadband. Not only does it ensure E-Rate eligibility to tribal libraries, but it will also provide training and technical assistance to tribes to implement the E-Rate program, and allow tribes to designate an appropriate learning institution, like a chapter house, as E-Rate eligible.
The Arizona delegation met with the offices all eight of the current Arizona Representatives, and Senators Flake and McCain. They met personally with Representatives Grijalva, O’Halleran, and Schweikert, and were able to discuss each talking point in support of Arizona libraries. Due to their visit, Representative O’Halleran learned about and signed a letter of support for the Tribal Connect Act companion bill in the House.
Overall, the NLLD experience was very productive. The opportunity to meet with representatives and senators to discuss legislation in support of library work has an impact on all library staffers in Arizona. Each lawmaker was invited to visit a library in their constituency to see firsthand the amazing things Arizona libraries do every day!
U.S. Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ 5th District), Erin MacFarlane, Hilary Fox
Chair, Legislative Committee
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