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**Budget Update** Harrisburg Needs to Know that Libraries are Bursting at the Seams with Young Summer Readers.

Posted By Glenn R. Miller, Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer is a super-busy season in public libraries across Pennsylvania.  Tens of thousands of kids flock to libraries attracted by this year’s Summer Reading Club theme, “Every Hero Has a Story.” 

 

Governor Wolf and every state legislator need to know about the heroic impacts that Summer Reading Clubs have on reading skills in the following school year.   The Governor and every legislators could become heroes for these summer readers, but only if we send a message and ask them for support.

 

Recently, one local librarian quizzed students about a favorite superhero:  “What was Superman afraid of?” An excited fourth grader yelled back, “Lois Lane!” 

 

Actually, Superman is afraid of kryptonite — and — the consequences of declining literacy in our state. 

 

Public libraries are a key educational resource for everyone, from preschoolers to retirees.  They face greater demand than ever for their books, computers, meeting rooms, and education programs, but can’t meet public expectations due to nine years of stagnant and declining state funding. 

 

Since the start of the Great Recession, cuts in state support for library services total more than $196 million forcing reductions to hours, book purchases, technology upgrades, and storytimes.  Pennsylvania now ranks 40th in overall funding for libraries, far behind our surrounding competitor states.

 

Through it all, libraries continue to stand ready to help every Pennsylvanian tell their own hero story. 

 

This year, Pennsylvania appears poised to boost support for education, and public libraries must be part of this educational investment.  We simply ask for a fair, proportionate share of education dollars including:

  • Public Library Subsidy funding of $62,693,625
  • Library Access funding of $4,149,750
  • Library Services for Visually Impaired & Disabled funding of $2,667,000
  • State Library funding of $2,663,750

 

Our role in serving Pennsylvania is big and our request is relatively modest within the scope of the Education budget overall.

 

Be a hero today and Take Action with your State Senator, your State Representative, and with Governor Wolf asking for their support to restore library funding and services.

 

We may be entering a crucial stage of the budget battle so your emails now are more important than ever.  Even if you wrote before, send another message.  Many thanks.

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*NEW* Governor Wolf Waives, Reduces Child Protection Clearance Fees

Posted By Glenn R. Miller, Thursday, June 11, 2015

On June 10, 2015, Governor Tom Wolf announced that state-level fees for child abuse clearances and criminal background checks required by the Child Protective Services Law will be waived for volunteers working with children, and reduced for employees needing clearances.  These changes take effect on July 25, 2015, and are a bit of welcome relief for libraries which rely heavily on volunteers.

 

Here’s what the Governor’s new policy means, first for volunteers:

  • The Pennsylvania State Police will no longer charge $10 for a volunteer seeking a Criminal Record Check; and
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services will no longer charge $10 for a volunteer seeking a Child Abuse History Clearance.

 

For employees, the Governor’s new policy means that:

  • The Pennsylvania State police charge for Criminal Record Check will be reduced from $10 to $8; and,
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services charge for a Child Abuse History Clearance will be reduced from $10 to $8.

 

This new policy does not alter any federal procedures or fees.  Library employees continue to need federal criminal history clearances from the FBI costing $27.50.  Likewise, any volunteer who has not lived in Pennsylvania continuously for the previous 10 years also needs the federal criminal clearance.

 

Finally, on a related note, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives will consider a bill (H.B. 1276) —perhaps as early as the week of June 15—that would amend the Child Protective Services Law to clarify some terminology that has been problematic from the very beginning.  Among other topics, the bill will more clearly define “direct contact”, “routine interaction,” and “Program, Activity, or Service,” and also narrows background check requirements and makes background checks more portable.

 

PaLA will keep you apprised of action on this or similar bills related to the Child Protective Services Law.

 

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New Resource: Sample Letter from Your State Rep. to the Appropriations Chair

Posted By Glenn R. Miller, Thursday, May 21, 2015

Just a reminder that your State Senator and State Representative will be in their home districts until the first of June.  Now is a great time to reach out to them with our request for greater state support for library services. 

 

In our last message, Cathi Alloway and Jen Stocker (see their May 15 blog post here) suggested several steps that you could take to help us reach our goals this year.  One of those suggestions was to ask your State Representative to contact the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee to ask that libraries receive a fair share of the Education Department’s anticipated funding increases.  Since that message went out, we have received several requests for a sample letter/language that library advocates could share with a State Representative, language which, in turn, could be used in a letter to the Appropriations Chairman.

 

Ask and ye shall receive.  We’ve crafted a sample letter (attached below) that can be used for Republican and Democratic members of the State House.  It’s a Word document so it’s easy to save and edit, or copy and paste.  This template also includes a place for you to insert the name of your library and amounts of funding lost during this period of budget cuts.

 

The point here is that the leaders of the House Appropriations Committee—Chairman Bill Adolph and Democratic Chairman, Joe Markosek—need to hear that library funding is a priority for other members of their respective caucuses.  A letter sent by your State Representative to the chairman does just that.

 

The letter also contains some good talking points that you can use as well.  And if you have not yet sent an email to your legislators and the Governor, it is really simple to Take Action now.

 

Many thanks.

 

Glenn Miller

Download File (DOC)

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Legislators Back Home Until June. Perfect Time to Make the Case for Libraries.

Posted By Catherine Alloway, Friday, May 15, 2015

Attention all library staff, trustees, friends and supporters:

Do your need additional resources to run your library this year?  Who doesn’t, right?

NOW is the time to Take Action for our fair share of the overall increases in the education budget.  Legislators will play an important role in restoring Pennsylvania’s cornerstones of education—our libraries.  Legislators will be home from May 17th to the 31st, so this is the time for you to contact and visit them in your home communities.

Both the governor and the legislature pledge to invest more in education. Our goal is to secure for library users a reasonable and overdue portion of the overall education increases.  Public libraries support learning from cradle to grave.  We are essential partners in the educational system, providing support for early literacy, homework, computing, and self-directed learning.  

Investing in education means investing in libraries!  

We urge you to:

  • Schedule a visit with your legislator between May 17-31.  Report on those visits to Cathi Alloway at calloway@schlowlibrary.org and they will be shared with PaLA.
  • Write a letter to your legislator or use PaLA’s sample email message at, http://www.capwiz.com/ala/pa/home/.  Letters that tell stories of how libraries have helped you/family/friends with learning experiences are the most compelling advocacy.
  • Also—especially if your State Representative is a Republican (not your State Senator)—please ask your State Representative to communicate their support for library funding to House Appropriations Chairman William Adolph.  Chairman Adolph is a key decision-maker who places great value on the priorities of his House Republican Caucus members. 
  • Get at least TWO OTHER PEOPLE to write, too!
  • PaLA has produced a new state budget advocacy brochure (download attachment below) which you can print out and use for a meeting or send along to your State Senator and State Representative.  

Thank you for picking up your pen, stylus or keyboard.  We can do this! 

Take Action today!

Cathi Alloway and Jennifer Stocker

Co-Chairs, PaLA Legislative Committee

Download File (PDF)

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National Library Week is the best time to MOVE ON LIBRARY ADVOCACY. Do it now!

Posted By Catherine Alloway, Wednesday, April 15, 2015
The next state budget must give libraries a fair share of the proposed increases in education.  Libraries propel academic success, and are key community hubs that move "PA Forward."  This week, TAKE ACTION:

 

·         Send an email.  Thank your legislators for their work and support and ask that libraries receive their fair share of increased funding for education. Additional talking points may be found here.  Tell the story about patrons whose lives have been transformed by your library. 

·         Use social media and your website to get your supporters to speak up for the library

they love.  Link them to PaLA’s advocacy page, http://www.capwiz.com/ala/pa/home/.

·         Schedule legislator visits with trustees, Friends and library users.  Build your personal relationships with your elected officials (and share with Glenn Miller any feedback from your meetings.)

This year provides is a great opportunity to improve education and create a more literate Pennsylvania.  Libraries are key components of literacy and a strong education, as PA Forward makes clear. 

Take Action today to celebrate your community impact and insure that libraries receive a fair share of proposed increases in education funding. 

 

Jennifer Stocker & Cathi Alloway
Co-Chairs, PaLA Legislative Committee

 

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