Monday, February 28, 2011

WLA President Rhonda Puntney on Library Legislative Day and More

As you are all aware and as reported in last week's American Libraries Direct, the Wisconsin Library Association postponed our annual Library Legislative Day scheduled for this past Tuesday due in part to the events occurring in Madison the past two weeks. 

This was not a reflection of our position regarding the budget reform bill proposed by Governor Walker.  WLA executive director Lisa Strand, chair of the library development and legislative committee Paul Nelson, and WLA president Rhonda Puntney all felt that our message about the importance of ALL libraries in our state would be overlooked and lost during the budget repair discussions.  Also, many legislators either did not respond to requests for appointments or canceled appointments altogether.  Monday's inclement weather was also a factor.  The state assembly met Tuesday and much of the Capitol building was closed off to the public.

The next biennial budget will be introduced in early March, and WLA will reschedule Legislative Day during the month of March once the budget has been made public.

The WLA executive committee and the WLA board of directors have unanimously passed a motion opposing the governor's budget repair bill.  WLA vice president Ron McCabe has testified on behalf of WLA's membership at the Wisconsin Senate joint finance committee hearing on February 15.  His testimony follows here.   We have been encouraging our membership to participate in the rallies.  Many of our members have attended the rallies and informed the WLA office and shared their experiences on Facebook.

In addition to this, it is imperative that you continue to make phone calls and send emails to legislators promote the value of ALL libraries and library staff, and to secure adequate funding during this next biennium.  WLA is staying focused on direct communication with elected officials at the local, state and national level on a continual basis to show to them the impact libraries have in their local schools, universities and communities.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at if you have concerns or comments.

Thank you,
Rhonda K Puntney
2011 WLA President

WLA President-elect Ron McCabe's testimony to Joint Finance on 2/15/11:

"I'm Ron McCabe, Director of McMillan Library, the public library in Wisconsin Rapids, and President-elect of the Wisconsin Library Association.  Our association supports the collective bargaining rights of public employees.  Many of those working in libraries, like myself, are not members of a union.  We share, however, a concern that this bill will reduce the quality of the services that libraries can provide to the citizens of Wisconsin.

Like other public organizations, public school, technical college, university, and community libraries are only as good as the people we can recruit and retain to work in these institutions.  We recruit nationally for professional staff.  Any long-term policy to reduce and suppress public employee compensation, like the bill before you, damages our ability to staff these important institutions with those capable of providing high-quality educational services.  

Managers have many tools for reducing expenditures when this is needed.  We feel that forcing all state and local agencies to balance their budgets by suppressing the compensation of public employees is not in the long-term interest of Wisconsin or Wisconsin's libraries."

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