Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happenings Magazine Names Albright Memorial Library One of the Top 40 Places to Take Wedding Photos in NEPA

Albright Memorial Library was named one of the Top 40 Places to Take Wedding Day Photos in NEPA by Happenings Magazine in the August 2009 issue.

Thank you, Happenings! And, as always, your magazine is available at Albright Memorial Library.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Budget Negotiations Begin; Calls Needed

From the Desk of Glenn R. Miller, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Library Association:

Good morning library supporters.

PaLA Call-In Week continues today through Friday, fortunate timing in the wake of Tuesday’s vote in the PA House of Representatives. The House, in a bipartisan vote of 150-49, did NOT agree with the Senate-amended H.B. 1416 that slashed library programs 55%. The House vote sends the bill back to the Senate where the Senate will disagree next Monday, moving the state budget into direct negotiations among three Senators (2 Rs; 1 D), three Representatives (2 Ds; 1 R), and the Governor’s office. More on this group—called a conference committee—in the days to come.

For now we ask for your continued help—and the help of other library users, friends and neighbors—on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to keep libraries on the front burner with your State Senator, your State Representative, and Governor Rendell.

Action Needed:

On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, please call the LOCAL DISTRICT OFFICE of your State Senator, your State Representative, and the Governor’s office in Harrisburg (717-787-2500.)

Our message, while changed a bit, remains basically the same:

1. Thank your Senator, Representative and the Governor for her/his past support of public libraries.

2. Tell her/him that public libraries are a lifeline for the unemployed, not a luxury. All across Pennsylvania, we’re busier than ever during this recession serving those looking for work, many without Internet access at home, and hundreds more of their constituents and families who need the library open more hours not fewer. (If you can, offer some specifics about just how much the library means to you in these tough times.)

3. Because their constituents need more library services now, urge her/him to support library funding as one of the priorities for level funding in the negotiations for a new state budget.

4. Remind her/him that the drastic, steep cuts (55%) included in the Senate budget bill will force library closings and service cutbacks at a time when their constituents need libraries to be fully open and equipped to serve.

5. Inform her/him that Pennsylvania stands to lose between $1.9 million and $4.3 million in federal money if any of the budget plans currently under consideration pass with deep cuts in library funding.

6. For all these reasons, when speaking with your State Senator and State Representative, urge her/him to contact their colleagues on the budget conference committee to please make library funding one of the priorities for level funding in the negotiations for a final state budget.

7. When speaking with the Governor’s office, urge him to make level funding for library services a priority in keeping with his strong commitment to education and Pennsylvania’s children.

Here’s some additional information that you should know for advocacy this week and beyond:

1. On Tuesday, the PA House voted to not concur with the latest Senate-passed budget plan. This vote will lead to face-to-face budget negotiations beginning formally next week.

2. This also means that almost all bets are off in terms of total state spending as well as specific appropriation line items. We have a general idea of the starting positions for the State Senate, the State House and the Governor. But it is now up to the conference committee to hammer out a budget deal and they will set each line item as they see fit as a group.

3. When the final agreement is reached, it will come to the floor of the House and the Senate for an up-or-down vote. No amendments will be allowed. That’s why, as the conference committee meets, it is important for us to contact legislators and urge them to contact the budget conferees in support of level library funding.

4. For your reference, a new chart comparing all three budget proposals is posted on the PaLA website. Go to and look for “Budget Proposals Compared, July 20, 2009.”

Legislators listen to the needs of their constituents just as the legislative budget negotiators listen to their fellow legislators for advice on specific budget items. This is why it is so important to make our voices heard this week and in the days that follow with all legislators and the Governor. Simply put: Cuts in library funding ill-serve their constituents and fritter away badly needed federal dollars. Whatever the size of the final budget, libraries should be a top priority for at least level funding given our widespread use by citizens (40 million in-library visits; 11 million online visits in 2006; many millions more this year.)

And finally, how do we answer that nagging question—In this bad economy, why shouldn’t libraries do their part and share in the budget cutting pain? What makes us so special?

Here’s the answer. For starters, a cut of 55% is not “sharing the pain” but, in fact, shouldering the burden. Why libraries, which represent three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) of the entire state budget, face cuts of 55 percent is beyond comprehension. But more to the point, libraries are the emergency room for the unemployed and their families, and we are busier than ever. Forcing libraries to close during these hard times simply slams the door of opportunity shut in the faces of thousands and thousands of Pennsylvanians who need open libraries to find work, apply for work, and gain professional advice and training for their job search.

Please call your State Senator, your State Representative and Governor Rendell today. Recruit two others to do likewise. Be polite but firm. Most likely, you’ll get a staff person. That’s OK. The more library messages, the better. Make sure you focus on the impact on their constituents.

In a few days, we’ll have details about the six budget conferees and will let you know more about some additional strategies aimed at the conferees specifically. Make no mistake. Some big differences still exist among the negotiators. But at least now they will meet together in one room to try and reach an agreement. Let’s make sure those negotiators hear from us directly and through the peer pressure of their colleagues in the House and Senate.

Be of good cheer. We are a few steps closer to the end. And better still, we seem to have more friends this year in the Capitol willing to speak up for libraries. There is no doubt that YOUR work and YOUR doggedness made that happen. We would be ill-advised now to turn down the heat.

Thank you for all of your great work. More to come.


Glenn R. Miller

Executive Director

Pennsylvania Library Association