Registration Opens for the 2018 ALA National Library Legislative Day

Mark your calendars: This week the American Library Association Washington Office announced that the 2018 National Library Legislative Day is set for May 7-8.

Held in Washington, D.C., this two-day event provides attendees a full day of education and discussion on the most pressing legislative issues facing libraries as well as training on how to talk to lawmakers, and a second day in which attendees put their knowledge to use in meetings with their representatives.

At last year’s event, ALA executive director Keith Fiels described the situation facing libraries as the “the challenge of a lifetime.” But if you think 2017 was a tough year for libraries in the political realm, buckle up. Next year is setting up to be even tougher, whether issues of funding, personal privacy protections, education policy, net neutrality rules and tech policy, or the administration’s ongoing assault on the free press and some of the library community’s core library values, including equity, and diversity.

The good news: last year’s NLLD was one of the highest attended in years, with more than 500 librarians descending on Capitol Hill—and those efforts paid off, as the House of Representatives defied The Tump administration’s proposal to eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and with it all federal funding for libraries.

But with a deficit-busting tax bill looming the budget battle is far from over.

“Those tax cuts are going to have be paid for in some way,” ALA president Jim Neal told PW this week, noting that the current tax bill, which independent analysts say could add about a trillion dollars to the national debt over the next decade, will ultimately put all federal programs, including library programs, at risk.

Don’t sit this one out. Have your voice heard. To register to attend the 2018 NLLD, or to find out more about the event, visit the ALA’s NLLD web page, or check out the ALA’s NLLD FAQ page.

ALA Shifts Fight Over Net Neutrality to Congress

At this point, it’s pretty much a done deal: barring an act of Congress, next Thursday, December 14, the Federal Communications Commission will likely vote to dump the current net neutrality rules, despite overwhelming public opposition.

How overwhelming is the opposition to such a move? According the ALA Washington Office’s District Dispatch (if you don’t subscribe, fix that now, it’s a great way to stay engaged and up-to-date) nearly 9,000 library advocates voiced their support of net neutrality over the past week alone, and more than 27,000 emails have been sent to legislators. And while the FCC appears unmoved, the fight is now moving to Congress, and possibly to the courts.

ALA Washington Office Deputy director offered an update this week, noting that ALA is working with a range of net neutrality allies in reaching out to Energy and Commerce Committee members (who most directly oversee the FCC).

“Congressional outcry,” Clark noted, “is the most likely to bring a pause on the intended vote.”

Again, let your voice be heard—contact your local representative. (And if you’re not sure where your member of Congress stands, check out this handy scorecard.)

Net Neutrality and the First Amendment

Expect the battle over net neutrality to be a subject of intense interest at the upcoming ALA Midwinter Meeting. This week, ALA president Jim Neal told PW that the ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee is at work examining how the loss of net neutrality could impact our First Amendment protections.

And the potential chilling of speech on the web was also addressed this week in a Mashable editorial by Jonathan Perri, the North American Director of Campaigns Partnerships at Change.org, who writes:

“Net neutrality levels the playing field so that anyone with any idea or story, regardless of how much money they have, will be able to share it, just by having access to the internet. The possibility of platforms or organizations being charged more for content delivery through “fast lanes” or “prioritization” undermines this. It’s a form of democracy, not unlike the right to vote or speak up at a town hall, that should be protected, not attacked.”

Elsevier, German Scientists in Closely Watched Standoff Over Journal Access

Stop me if you’ve heard this story before: According to a report in the journal Nature, some 200 universities in Germany could lose access to Elsevier journals over a simmering contract dispute. Nature reports:

“Negotiators with ‘Project DEAL’, a consortium of university libraries and research institutes, have been in talks with Elsevier for more than two years. They want a deal that would give most scientists in Germany full online access to 2,500 or so Elsevier journals, at about half the price that individual libraries have paid in the past. Open access is proving to be the sticking point in the talks: under the deal sought, all corresponding authors affiliated with German institutions would be allowed to make their papers free to read and share by anyone in the world at no extra cost.”

These kinds of contentious negotiations are common, of course. But this one is worth keeping a close eye on, as the push for open access certainly appears to be gaining steam—and the German researchers show no sign of giving in: “Advocates of open-access publishing worldwide say that victory for the German universities would be a major blow to conventional models of scientific publishing based on subscription fees,” the report notes.

In Ohio, Library Supporters Blast Library Board for Lack of Transparency

Ask yourself this: what would happen if your library’s board, in the midst of an effort to assess the future of the library’s “buildings and branches,” hosted a “community conversation” in which board members refused to have a conversation? According to a report at Cincinnati.com, that’s what happened in Hamilton County, Ohio, this week—and predictably, things “went downhill” fast.

“A professional moderator hired by the library triggered outrage when she asked for no clapping and no cheering and said Monday’s meeting was for library officials to listen,” the report notes. “This meant the library board would not be answering any questions, she explained. Instead, all questions were recorded, and the answers will later be posted publicly online.”

Among the issues that has the public concernred is a controversial plan for one of the library’s main buildings, specifically “speculation that the board planned to sell the building that cost taxpayers nearly $40 million 20 years ago.”

LJ Names Its 2017 Star Libraries

Library Journal has announced the tenth edition of the LJ Index of Public Library Service, which includes its selection for Star Libraries.

The index includes 7,409 U.S. public libraries which qualified to be rated in the Index, including “259 Star Libraries, each receiving three-Star, four-Star, or five-Star designations.”

The index “compares U.S. public libraries with their spending peers based on per capita measures of service output,” based on a variety of measures, including circulation (including digital circulation) library visits, program attendance, and public Internet computer use, with LJ Index scores produced by “measuring the proportional relationships between each library’s statistics and the averages for its expenditure category.”

Marvel Entertainment Super Heroes Arrive on Hoopla Digital

Comic book fans rejoice! Midwest Tape’s online service Hoopla digital this week announced a new agreement with Marvel Entertainment that adds over 250 collections and graphic novels to the service.

The collection will include a range of classic heroes including the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Punisher, and The Runaways.

“Through this agreement, we are building a digital home for comic book fans where they can find all their favorite characters and have instant access to hundreds of acclaimed works, all with a library card,” said Jeff Jankowski, founder and owner of hoopla digital, adding that n”o collection would be complete without the iconic work of Marvel Entertainment.”

Hoopla digital’s comics experience showcases Action View, which allows for full-page and panel-by-panel views of comics and illustrations.