Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Legislators recognize the contributions of libraries at Library Legislative Day

State Representative Kim Hixson (D-Whitewater) and State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) addressed about 150 librarians and library supporters gathered in Madison for Library Legislative Day, both emphasizing the importance of libraries as part of the state's educational infrastructure. The annual event, co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Association and the Wisconsin Educational Media & Technology Association, began with a legislative briefing and keynote address before attendees headed to the Capitol for meetings with their legislators.

Rep. Hixson said, "I really do believe in the power of learning, and I believe libraries play a critical role in helping people better themselves." He vowed to use his position as chair of the Committee on Colleges and Universities to focus on protecting and enhancing the quality of higher education in Wisconsin, and noted that libraries play a critical role in the success of those institutions. Rep. Hixson also said that the issue of Internet access in rural communities is critical to the economic recovery, mentioning that he has communicated with U.S. Senators Feingold and Kohl to include expansion of broadband access in the economic stimulus package.

Sen. Dale Schultz described his Universal Broadband for Rural Regions (UBRR) initiative, which calls for mapping to determine where service gaps exist. He described the competitive disadvantages experienced by residents of his rural district, where dial-up access is often the only option. Sen. Schultz said, "All workers and their families should be able to choose where to live without having to sacrifice access." He acknowledged the key role that libraries play in providing access, also noting that "for Wisconsin to remain globally competitive, learning is the key."

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