Friday, July 22, 2005

Two organizations oppose SB-258 on constitutional grounds

The Motion Picture Association of American (MPAA) and The Media Coalition, Inc. have each issued a memorandum opposing SB-258. Both organizations state that the bill barring public libraries from lending or renting R-rated movies to minors without the consent of a parent or guardian would likely be found unconstitutional. The Media Coalition says, "Courts in nine different states have ruled it unconstitutional either to enforce the MPAA's rating system or to financially punish a movie that carries specific rating designations." MPAA elaborates that attempts to incorporate voluntary ratings into state and local law have been consistently found unconstitutional because "they unlawfully delegate legislative power to a private association."

MPAA also states that keeping the ratings voluntary is part of their usefulness and that government involvement would lead to film makers opting to leave their films unrated.

An informal survey of WLA members found that about 73 percent of respondents place some restrictions on minors relating to movie circulation. For instance, about 31 percent of all respondents allow parents to place a restriction on their child’s record, but without that request, all materials are available to any minor patron. On the other hand, nearly 21 percent bar minors from checking out R-rated movies altogether. Whichever approach the library took, most respondents felt this was an issue that did not require legislation because the library was meeting the community’s expectations.

For more information go to the Legislative & Budget Status Report, and see SB-258.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Mary Relindes Ellis's "The Turtle Warrior" is Banta Award Winner

The Literary Awards Committee of the Wisconsin Library Association's Reader's Section has selected Mary Relindes Ellis’s novel The Turtle Warrior as the winner of the Banta Award. The award is for the highest literary achievement by a Wisconsin author in 2004. The Turtle Warrior is Hammond resident Ellis’s first novel. It is a powerful tale of two brothers living on a failing farm in northern Wisconsin with a violent alcoholic father. The Turtle Warrior is a dark, emotionally powerful book that will stay with the reader for a long time.

The Banta Award is made possible by the Banta Corporation Foundation through a grant to the WLA Foundation.

The Literary Awards Committee also chose three Notable Wisconsin Authors for their body of work: Robert Bloch (Milwaukee), author of many short stories and novels in the horror field including the novel upon which Hitchcock’s classic film Psycho was based, Irving Wallace (Kenosha), author of bestselling novels including The Chapman Report, The Prize, and The Man, and historian John Gurda, a Milwaukee native whose most recent work is The Making of Milwaukee.

The Literary Awards Committee also selected ten books for Outstanding Achievement. These titles, all published in 2004, were also written by Wisconsin authors. The books are:
Chang, Lan Samantha (Appleton). Inheritance.
Davis, Tom (Green Bay). The Tattered Autumn Sky: Bird Hunting in the Heartland.
Kercheval. Jesse Lee (Madison). Dog Angel: Poems.
Logue, Mary (Stockholm). Bone Harvest.
Meacham, Rebecca (Green Bay). Let’s Do.
Mitchell, Judith Claire (Madison). The Last Day of the War.
Nelscott, Kris (pseudonym of Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Superior). Stone Cribs.
Stefaniak, Mary Helen (Milwaukee). The Turk and My Mother.
Tyson, Timothy B. (Madison). Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story.
Vreeland, Susan (Racine).The Forest Lover.

The 2005 Literary Award Committee members are: Sandra Sechrest (chair), Patricia Bordak, Nanette Bulebosh, Beverly DeWeese, Susan Bushouse Foran, John Hendricks, Anne Kasuboski, Constance Mahsem, Catherine Morris-Nelson, and Edell Schaefer.

For more information about the work of the Literary Awards Committee, go to
Library funding and operations bills circulating

Two library bills which resulted from the State Superintendent's Task Force on Public Library Legislation and Funding are circulating and will likely be introduced in this session. The bills' sponsors are Sen. Joe Leibham (R- Sheboygan) and Rep. Stephen Freese (R-Dodgeville). WLA members are encouraged to contact their legislators to urge cosponsorship in order to boost the bills' chances of success. The deadline for cosponsorship is July 21.

The bills are LRB-0411/2 and LRB-0412/1, to adopt several of the Task Force's recommendations to reform the way that libraries andlibrary systems are operated and funded. The Task Force finished its work in 2002; the bills were introduced late in the legislature's last session and didn't progress. For more information on the bills, including the text of the drafts, and a DPI summary of the key points, go to the WLA Legislative status report: