Utah Library Day on the Hill – Feb. 12, 2020

Our libraries receive funding from our local, state, and national representatives. Yet sometimes as a profession we struggle to do a great job building relationships with our representatives, lining up our priorities, asking for additional funding, and positioning ourselves as leaders on key issues like net neutrality. Utah Library Association is trying to build infrastructure to better meet this need. One of the efforts in this plan is active participation in the annual Library Day on the Hill alongside other partnering library organizations including the Utah State Library, the Utah Academic Library Consortium, and the Utah Educational Library Media Association. We will be hosting tables in the capitol rotunda and setting up meetings with state legislators for you, their constituents, to advocate for your library. We will be making a coordinated effort this year to ask specifically for $270,000 to be allocated to Utah Education Telehealth Network to help rural libraries and schools pay for reliable broadband Internet. This will make up the difference eRate discounts leave that those libraries and schools can’t pay.

This Library Day on the Hill will be:
February 12, 2020
7 AM – 10 AM
Utah State Capitol

Advocacy may sound like a political activity–but it’s fundamentally about making our passion for the work we do, and our transformational impact on the community, more visible. We invite ULA members to come be part of this unified effort on behalf of all our libraries! Please direct questions about Library Day on the Hill to rebekah.cummings@utah.edu

Utah Library Association Wins 2019 ALA Gerald Hodges Award for Intellectual Freedom

The Utah Library Association is honored to receive the 2019 American Library Association Gerald Hodges Intellectual Freedom Award! This award is given to the most innovative and effective intellectual freedom project covering a state or region. ULA is awarded the 2019 Hodges Award for taking the lead in building a coalition of partners that lead to the reinstatement of access to EBSCO databases for more than 650,000 students after a state Board blocked access based on complaints that EBSCO databases were pornographic. The month-long campaign to overturn the censorship decision was multi-faceted, strategic, and generated thousands of emails from ordinary Utah citizens direct to UEN Board Members, resulting in a reversal of their initial decision to ban access to the databases.

ULA Advocacy Chair Peter Bromberg, who coordinated the effort to reinstate EBSCO, will be at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington DC to receive a plaque and $1000 prize on behalf of the Utah Library Association. Congratulations, Peter and ULA!

Utah Education and Telehealth Network (UETN) votes unanimously to reinstate Ebsco for K-12 Utah Schools

In late September, the Utah Education and Telehealth Network (UETN) shut off access to the Ebsco databases for K-12 Utah students after receiving and investigating complaints about inappropriate content in the Ebsco database. On October 1, the UETN Board voted 6-1 to retain the ban on Ebsco pending further investigation.

Over the past three weeks, ULA has partnered with UELMA, EveryLibrary, UEA, and ALA to advocate that UEN restore access to Ebsco. ULA and EveryLibrary created an online petition that generated nearly 7,000 emails to members of the UETN Board, and an additional push through ALA Engage this week generated 550 more emails. Peter Bromberg, ULA Advocacy Chair and Elaine Shelburne, a UELMA representative and librarian at Bonneville High School, were interviewed on KRCL 90.9 Radioactive Wednesday night encouraging Utah residents to attend the UETN Board meeting today where the Board would vote on whether to restore access to Ebsco.

This morning, the UETN Board voted unanimously to immediately restore access to Ebsco for K-12 students. Several library representatives from ULA and UELMA made public comment and State Librarian Colleen Eggett spoke in support of restoring access to Ebsco. The motion to restore Ebsco was passed with the caveat that should UEN receive future complaints, UEN staff will immediately verify the legitimacy of the complaint and work with Ebsco to block the offending item. If the verified offending content can’t be blocked, UEN will again shut down access to the whole database. To mitigate the risk of Utah students again losing access to Ebsco, ULA will follow up with UEN to make sure they are aware of the granular administrative control that can be exercised over Ebsco content.

The Utah Library Association wishes to thank our membership for their support of Utah students and intellectual freedom. Your actions through signing petitions, commenting on UEN’s website, and making public comment at the UETN board meeting helped raise awareness and garner support for a critical information resource that keeps Utah students informed and academically competitive. We also want to thank EveryLibrary, UELMA, UEA, and ALA for partnering with us to restore Ebsco. Lastly, thank you to the UETN Board for making sure Utah students have continued access to high-quality, safe, and scholarly resources.

Sincerely,

Rebekah Cummings, Utah Library Association, President

Peter Bromberg, Utah Library Association, Advocacy Chair

 

Utah Library Association (ULA) Supports Passage of Question #1 to Fund School Libraries and Public Education

The Board of the Utah Library Association voted on September 21st to join Our Schools Now, the Utah Education Association (UAE), and the Utah PTA in urging members and supporters to vote “For” on Question #1, which will be on the ballot in November’s election.

Should Question #1 pass, the Legislature has agreed to enact the Teacher and Student Success Act which levies a 10 cent tax on motor fuels that would raise over $100 million dollars for education. School librarians are specifically named in the proposal, and school library programs would directly benefit from this new funding. This is a unique, important, and high-impact way to address deficiencies in education funding in Utah, and improve student achievement through better school library programs across the state.

As the largest library organization in the state, ULA is dedicated to fostering academic and economic success for all Utahns by providing leadership and direction in developing and improving library and information services across the state. The ULA Board’s vote to support Question #1 reflects the organization’s deep commitment to the value of school libraries and the recognition that numerous studies have shown that School Library Media Specialists play a key role in the academic success of Utah students. See: www.lrs.org/data-tools/school-libraries/

The ULA Board believes that their vote of support will send a clear message to legislators, partners, and voters that full funding for education, school libraries, and school media specialists is the best way to support the success of our children and foster a strong economic future for all Utahns. We are encouraging our members and librarians across the state to take the Pledge to Vote for Question #1 at http://www.saveschoollibrarians.org/votefor1.

For more information see: