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MLA Advocacy

The Michigan Library Association leads, educates and advocates for the advancement of the Michigan library community. MLA is dedicated to protecting library services and funding. We advocate for libraries through statewide publicity, grassroots advocacy and lobbying. As a united community, MLA is the collective voice for Michigan libraries. We advocate for and protect library funding and monitor and respond to anything that impacts our libraries’ ability to serve our communities.

2019-2020 Advocacy and Legislative Accomplishments

Over the years, the advocacy work done by MLA, our lobby firm Governmental Consultant Services Inc. (GCSI), the MLA Advocacy and Legislative Committee and numerous engaged librarians has resulted in increased state aid to libraries, relief from tax captures, continuing availability of the May, August or November ballot for library millage questions, and the ability to hold sacred the privacy records of library patrons at its highest levels.

Each year, MLA’s Advocacy and Legislative Committee surveys our membership and constructs a priority list of goals and topics to address. MLA values all voices being heard, all possible solutions being vetted, and each year, a fresh approach and a pro-active agenda is created. This year though, has been one for the record books.

In a tumultuous legislative environment and budget cycle like FY2020, we are thankful that state aid to libraries was untouched. (The budget was adopted on Oct. 1, 2019 – the day it went into effect.) Long-held relationships and daily dialog with leaders in the House and Senate went a long way in protecting these funds. 

In October 2019, MLA staff, board and other statewide partners worked together to address Senate Bill 611 – which included amendments to the Michigan Library Privacy Act. After many changes, the proposed bill removes obstacles and legal barriers libraries sometimes face when a crime has been committed in the library while providing for continued protection to a libraries core foundational value…protecting patron privacy…in their reading histories, materials borrowed, resources reviewed, or services used at the library. The greatest change to the Michigan Library Privacy Act as proposed in SB611 has come in clarifying that a library record does not include video surveillance and that video surveillance can be turned over to law enforcement without a court order if it shows no identifying records. The pandemic stalled the movement of the bill moving forward for a few months, but MLA continues to actively support its movement from the Senate, to the House, and hopefully to be signed into law by Governor Whitmer before December 31, 2020. 

With the global pandemic looming in March 2020, MLA stepped forward and used our role as a leader and advocate of Michigan libraries to call on all libraries in Michigan to close their doors to reduce the spread of this deadly disease.  Since that time, we helped address reopening plans, advocated for curbside services, and participated in Governor Whitmer’s subcommittee to address specific re-opening plans. We used our social media and direct communication vehicles to constantly and consistently share essential and critical communications with the library community. We continue to use our voice in these unprecedented times of uncertainty as we face this worldwide pandemic, and libraries must do their part to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and protect our citizens and library staff from exposure.

Not only did we address the global pandemic, but in June 2020, MLA Board of Directors and staff stood in solidarity and issued a statement in support of Black Lives Matter. They continue to stand firm in condemning the systemic and systematic social injustices endured by Black people and People of Color.

In 2019-2020, MLA joined forces with the American Library Association (ALA) in denouncing Macmillan Publishers’ new library eBook lending model; addressed President Trump's proposed FY2021 budget proposing the elimination of federal funding for libraries and museums; advocated for COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus legislation and resources; asked our members to support the Library Stabilization Fund Act introduced by Michigan Congressman Andy Levin; and requested that John Hopkins published report, “Public Health Principles for a Phased Reopening During COVID-19 Guidance for Governors” be reassessed to correct their misrepresentation that libraries are low contact, low risk spaces for the spread of the coronavirus.

MLA was one of eight organizations to lead the formation of the Cultural Advocacy Network of Michigan, a consortium of statewide cultural organizations including the Michigan Library Association, Historical Society of Michigan, Michigan Museums Association, Michigan Presenters Network, Michigan Festivals and Events Association, Michigan Youth Arts, Michigan Historic Preservation Network, and Michigan Humanities. The Cultural Advocacy Network of Michigan strives to bring a collective voice to advocacy for cultural organizations in Michigan.

MLA also provided support for a package of bills aimed at addressing the state’s ongoing literacy crisis by requiring credentialled libraries and certified librarians in every public school in the state. While the package of bills hasn’t seen any movement from the legislature, MLA will continue to monitor this package of bills and fully support our sister organization, the Michigan Association of Media in Education (MAME), to re-introduce the bills in the next legislative cycle.

MLA will continue to work on behalf of libraries to advocate daily. Local and state elected officials and community leaders need to be educated and reminded of the importance and value of libraries and MLA stands ready to help tell that story.

MLA Advocacy and Legislative Committee 2020-2021 Action Plan

Michigan Priorities

  • 2020-2021 Appropriations:

    • Protect state aid to libraries, remain status quo or protect against disproportionate decrease during Coronavirus budget challenges

    • Prepare for testimony at budget hearing

    • Encourage continued support for Michigan eLibrary.

    • Set up individual meetings with key legislative leadership on Appropriations after Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference in August

  • Michigan Privacy Act

    • Move this drafted legislation through to completion

  • Look at ways to exclude guns at public libraries (opportunity may come as Capitol Commission assesses this at their facility.)

  • Long Term - Raise awareness of the Digital Divide and find Local/Regional/Statewide partners to identify solutions to this inequality.

    • Expand Broadband/Wifi Access for libraries, identify funding

  • Long Term - Continue to support MAME on K-12 School Library/Librarian challenges

    • Letter to School Superintendents drafted and sent before school begins in September.

  • Penal Fines

    • Monitor, protect and reverse any efforts to provide legislation for parallel ordinances and other methods to siphon this funding.

    • Educate all parties (legislators, county treasurers, librarians) on how this system works – we need a full picture and more consistency in reporting methods to libraries by county.

Continue to Watch and Respond, if Necessary

  • Maintain the ability to hold millage elections in key months of August and November.

  • Maintain property tax and local income tax funding structure for libraries.

    • Property taxes may decrease due to the Coronavirus in FY2022 – continue to watch and protect

    • Monitor legislation to ensure the elimination of automatic tax captures

  • Look for options to secure funding for libraries’ participation in early childhood education and literacy.

Federal Priorities

  • Partner with ALA or others on moving stabilization legislation forward during the pandemic.

Member Advocacy Development

  • Continue to motivate, mentor and assist library directors and trustees to build relationships with legislators on an ongoing basis. Educate members about best practices for working with a legislator to change laws and things that should be taken into consideration.

  • Encourage every library director to contact his/her legislators, offer to host office hours, host a tour

  • Encourage directors to contact their legislators in support of appropriations goals.

  • Encourage all public library directors to invite legislators to summer reading kickoff programs and to read a book during March Reading Month

  • Include a legislative update at MLA Annual Conference

    • Thank legislators when they vote favorable for issues/appropriations affecting libraries.

Library Advocacy Day

  • In April each year, produce a statewide library advocacy day at the State Capitol for library personnel and legislators.

    • Provide advocacy training and talking points for legislative visits    

Advocacy Communications

  • Establish a monthly newsletter for state legislators that speaks to the value and importance of libraries

  • Hold regional meetings by zoom to introduce library members to legislators

  • Establish October as Library Appreciation Month, encourage resolutions, letters to the editor, etc. about the importance and value of libraries in each community. Create a statewide campaign for libraries to use in their communities.

  • Establish short video’s or talking point articles for library personnel about the issues.

 


Uniting the Michigan Library Community

MLA is proud to partner with organizations serving the library community.


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