This is the first of what I hope will be a couple of reports about my time down in DC as NH’s Chapter Councilor at ALA Annual. Rather than try to walk you through every resolution and discussion item that was brought before the Council, I’ll try to highlight some of the more interesting or controversial topics. If you would like more details, feel free to contact me, skbutzel (at) cityofportsmouth (dot) com.
Equal access to library services for all regardless of immigration status
Perhaps the most passionately discussed resolution was offered by REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking. (REFORMA is an affiliate of ALA.) Their resolution urged Congress to enact comprehensive immigration legislation reform that would ensure equal access to library services for all, regardless of immigration status.
As their councilor explained, REFORMA was concerned about Arizona’s law S.B. 1070 and how it would impact libraries. In particular, they were concerned that librarians at those public libraries which are part of city governments might be required to ask patrons or visitors to prove their U.S. citizenship before they would be granted a library card or perhaps receive library services. They also expressed concern that members of their communities are not going to public libraries or other public places as often for fear of being confronted by public officials and potentially arrested.
In a Council discussion forum, councilors from across the country reported legislative efforts in their states similar to the one that produced S.B. 1070 in Arizona. The clear message was that these issues are not limited to librarians in Arizona or even border states.
While some councilors wanted to refine the language of the resolution, the resolution was voted on and passed.
Other resolutions that passed
- To increase funding for the “Improving Literacy through School Libraries” program to $100 million
- To include school librarians in the re-authorization of the elementary and secondary education act
- To ensure equitable access to all formats of electronic content through libraries/equal access to 21st century communications (more details to follow on this one)
- To increase the composition of the conference committee to include a representative from the Accessibility Assembly
- To establish a retired members roundtable
- To ensure non-discrimination in ALA conference contracts, (added transgendered persons as an additional criteria)
- To support a joint digital pilot project by the Library of Congress and the Government Publishing Office