Dear Utah Library Community,
I hope you are all staying safe and sane in these tumultuous times. With everything going on in the world, Library Day on the Hill probably feels like a million years ago! I’m pleased to let you know that the Utah legislature did fund our primary ask in 2020: $270,000 one-time and $375,000 ongoing funding to support internet connections to 70 urban and rural libraries on the Utah Education and Telehealth Network (UETN). This funding covers the portion of the cost that is not covered by the federal E-Rate program and ensures that all public libraries in the state can purchase bandwidth according to their usage and needs and not their individual budgets. I have no doubt that having librarians directly advocating to their representatives about the need for high-speed, reliable internet helped UETN’s legislative priority move through committee successfully. Thanks to all of you for your civic engagement and commitment to making sure Utah libraries are able to meet the needs of our users.
Unfortunately, not every library request was funded this year. In addition to the UETN ask, Library Day on the Hill participants were also advocating for the PALS (Parents Advocating for Librarians in Schools) legislative ask of $3.2 million for an impact study to place 20 certified teacher librarians in 20 schools to measure the impact that having librarians in schools has on literacy scores. While the ask got close, it was not funded as part of the 2020-2021 state budget.
The Utah Library Association Advocacy Committee is thrilled with the results of Library Day on the Hill 2020. Not only did we bring the library community together in our state’s Capitol, we had the opportunity to meet individually with 80/104 of our state’s representatives to talk about the critical role libraries play in our communities. Many of us also had the gratifying experience of hearing how much our libraries mean to them and their constituents. Personally, I loved hearing about how much my representatives love Overdrive, our children’s programs, and the way we support small businesses. Most importantly, the additional $270,000 and $375,000 of ongoing UETN funding will have a tremendous impact on our libraries, particularly in rural areas.
Thank you again for making Library Day on the Hill 2020 a success, and we hope to see you again for Library Day on the Hill 2021 on February 11, 2021!
Rebekah Cummings, Library Day on the Hill, Co-Chair
Alfred Mowdood, Library Day on the Hill, Co-Chair
Peter Bromberg, ULA Advocacy Chair