Wednesday, March 30, 2011

President’s Message: Moving Mountains…

WLA President
Rhonda Puntney
Now that Library Legislative Day is past, WLA will be taking the information gleaned from the visits and evaluations to make contacts with legislators who've indicated an interest in helping restore maintenance of effort (MOE) and funding for BadgerLink, or shared our concerns about the future of the public, academic, school and special libraries in the state. These supporters need to hear from constituents within and outside of the WLA membership.

Restoring library funding and maintenance of effort isn't going to be easy, and WLA’s strategy will continue to be one of inclusive involvement. Members with Republican legislators are going to be particularly important to this effort. Members with Democratic legislators will be asked to help in other ways.  The voices of your board members, friends groups, and community members will be more important now than ever.  Involving them in your efforts to contact state elected officials WILL make an impact.

WLA will submit statements to the Joint Finance Committee, but again, the committee members will be more motivated by contacts from their constituents asking for restored funding.  Sharing stories of how the library has played a positive role in a constituent’s life can have a very powerful impact, as well.

With so many groups getting harmed, it's hard to be heard.  WLA has sent a news release (which is also on the WLA Blog) about the impact of the budget on libraries and contacted media about Library Legislative Day and the rally.  I hope ALL of you will write your own letter to the editor of your local papers about the impact of cuts on the people who count on libraries.  Public libraries, ask your board president to submit a letter.  Even better, get your students, friends and other library supporters to write letters.

WLA, working with public library systems, has sent a brief survey to public library directors about their recent budget levels and projected impact if MOE is lost. Having better data about challenges posed by losing MOE will make our case for libraries stronger. No matter what happens with MOE at the state level, getting the library funding your community needs will come down to your local supporters being able to articulate their needs to local elected officials.  If WLA, working with its members, is able to retain MOE, then library supporters will still have to make a case for staying in compliance because of cuts to shared revenue.

WLA is working very hard to move the mountain, and we can through the efforts of all of our members and our constituents working together.

Library Legislative Day Attracts Nearly 200

Library Legislative Day 2011Despite having been rescheduled on a day of rainy, cold weather, nearly 200 individuals attended Library Legislative Day on March 22 in Madison. Held in conjunction with the Wisconsin Educational Media & Technology Association (WEMTA) Conference, the event started with a legislative briefing at Monona Terrace. Prior to appointments with legislators, the group gathered on Olin Terrace and walked to the Capitol building and into the Rotunda. Ron McCabe, WLA President-elect, gave brief remarks before library supporters ventured off to meetings with legislators.

WLA thanks all library supporters who turned out for this important event.

Here is the text of Ron's remarks:
We stand here today as proud representatives of the greatest tradition of our great state, the tradition of quality education for all.  In our democracy, everyone is allowed and encouraged to take part in the political, social, and economic life of their community, their state, and their nation.  Public education is the most powerful means we have to encourage and enable that participation--and libraries play a vital role in this effort to create a more perfect union.

Education often begins in the classroom, but it doesn’t end there.  Libraries provide opportunities for lifelong learning that extend beyond the classroom and beyond graduation.  Our school, technical college, university, and community libraries offer ways to share costly educational resources that we need, but cannot afford to purchase as individuals.  Wisconsin’s extensive and highly efficient networks of library cooperation expand local sharing by providing access to libraries throughout the state.

We are here today representing the millions of Wisconsinites whose lives are enriched by library services.  Years ago a youth services librarian told me the story of a little boy who had attended one of her a programs.  When they mixed two primary colors of paint together and made a new color, the boy exclaimed, “It’s a miracle!”

For those of us who are a bit older, that “miracle” doesn’t seem so miraculous.  But we are all looking for that next discovery, that next miracle in our lives.  And those of us who work in libraries see these miracles happen every day and know that these miracles are what education is all about.  We work hard to make sure that they keep happening because we know that Wisconsin cannot go forward without them.  We ask legislators of both parties to support us in this great work.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Only 46 Days Left Until National Library Legislative Day!!!

The 2011 National Library Legislative Day is quickly approaching and will be held on Monday, May 9, and Tuesday, May 10, at the Liaison Hotel in Washington, D.C. Many changes in Congress now contribute to a new political climate in both the House and the Senate. New members need to hear from you and other constituents. We hope to have a good showing of Wisconsin librarians in legislators offices.

Be sure to register early – the American Library Association has reserved a block of rooms at the hotel, but many of you know that they always go quickly and you’ll want to be at the center of the action!

The American Library Association, Chief Officers of State Library Agencies and the District of Columbia Library Association sponsor National Library Legislative Day. We look forward to seeing you soon!

The registration fee is $20 and includes breakfast and an afternoon snack. Register online for NLLD now or download this form (pdf), complete and mail it to your state coordinator. Having trouble with registration? Take a look at our step-by-step instructions (pdf).

The American Library Association has a block reserved at the Liaison Hotel, and the block is listed under American Library Association 2011. You may also make reservations by calling 1-866-AFFINIA or clicking here.

If you have questions, please email Julie Schneider ( or Rhonda Puntney (

Monday, March 14, 2011

Come to Library Legislative Day, Rally for Libraries, March 22

Library Legislative Day has been rescheduled to March 22.  After the morning summary, at 9:30, we will meet at Olin Terrace to gather for the rally.  Our goal is call attention to the proposed cuts to libraries in the upcoming Governor's budget.  This is not a political rally, but a show of support for libraries of all types.  We will have some signs made up for you to use, or bring your own.  We will walk down MLK Jr. Blvd, around the square and into the rotunda.  One or two speakers, then we will break up and meet with our representatives. 

This is our time to highlight the difficulties that the proposed budget will bring to our libraries, our patrons and our communities.  Don't let this chance pass you by.  Show your support.  Ask your Friends groups, board members and patrons to join you. 

Please join us.  If you have questions, contact Lisa Strand @ WLA.
Diana Skalitzky, Marshall Public Library

WAPL Conference Registration Now Open!

The “City of Four Lakes” has excitement and a lot to offer. But don’t take our word for it….see it for yourself!

Registration is now open for the “Survive and Thrive” 2011 WAPL Conference. This year’s conference will be held May 4-6 at the Sheraton Hotel in Madison.

“We have a well-rounded and outstanding selection of programs available this year,” said Brian Kopetsky, conference chair. “Librarians in the public sector will be pleased with what’s offered.”

Kicking things off on Thursday, May 5, will be keynote Tom Peters. Peters is the founder and CEO of TAP Information Services in Missouri. It provides a wide variety of services supporting library and library consortia, and is currently involved in projects with OPAL and Info Quest. Peters talk about effective responses to some of the top challenges facing libraries, with an emphasis on e-books and other changes in technology.

Thursday’s luncheon speakers feature Dr. Jack Norman and Joe Fahey of Institute for Wisconsin’s Future (IWF). They will discuss how libraries can defend themselves in the midst of political assault. Jim Fleming, a long-time host of Wisconsin Public Radio, will speak about "A Life in Radio," at Friday’s luncheon. Jim will share how the topics he's covered on “To the Best of Our Knowledge” and other programs has impacted his life and world view.

Besides the luncheons and keynote address, several break-out sessions are planned. Digitization, using e-books, budgeting, swapping story times and weeding are just a few of the hot topics that will be covered.

The conference rate is $75 for WLA members and $100 for non-members. Rooms can be reserved for $109 per night at the Sheraton Hotel. The hotel features comfortable rooms, free wi-fi, a pool, fitness center and fine dining.

For conference, hotel or registration information, visit the conference website at

Special Librarians to Hold Membership Meeting at UW-Madison on March 16, 4:30 p.m.

The Association of Wisconsin Special Librarians (AWSL) board is holding a business meeting Wednesday, March 16 at 4:30 in Der Rathskeller at the Memorial Union in Madison. Please join AWSL leaders for a short meeting and some librarian fellowship and fun (yes, fun!).  Well be hearing about WLA board matters and the programs planned for the 2011 Annual Conference in Milwaukee, and discussing plans for the coming year.

Carrie Doyle, AWSL Chair, also reports that the newest edition of the AWSL Newsletter will be published soon and newsletter editor, Bob Shaw, is accepting articles, news, and announcements to include in the newsletter.  Please send submissions to Bob at:

Please feel free to contact Carrie Doyle with any questions, suggestions, or ideas about AWSL activities and events in the coming year!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Belleville Parents and Students Win WLA/WEMTA Intellectual Freedom Award

For their staunch dedication to preserving First Amendment rights and for their well-reasoned defense for keeping Chris Crutcher’s Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes as part of the ninth-grade curriculum at Belleville High School, the parents and students of Belleville who supported retaining that book have been selected to receive the 2011 Intellectual Freedom Award given jointly by the Wisconsin Library Association & the Wisconsin Educational Media & Technology Association.

The WLA/WEMTA nomination review committee voted unanimously to give this year's award to the six parents and four students from Belleville who successfully overcame a censorship challenge at their local high school. Their campaign supported a well-reviewed book which had been part of a teacher’s curriculum for nine years. Steadfast advocacy on behalf of intellectual freedom for high school students is neither an easy nor a quick undertaking. It was, however, grass roots organizing at its best.

The circumstances began in September 2010, when the Belleville parent of one ninth-grade student opposed keeping Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes on the reading list put together by the student’s teacher, Peggy Kruse. The parent criticized the book’s inclusion in the list because of that individual’s perception that the book contained “pornographic and sexual content” on several pages. In addition, the parent considered the book to be religiously biased because it had “at least 52 pages where the Lord’s name is taken in vain or there are swear words or other vulgar words.” The complainant also asserted “characters ‘portrayed as Christians’ are sometime ridiculed or portrayed in a negative way.”

The parent was offered the option of having her son read a different book. This solution, however, was rejected. A committee put together by the school reviewed the book and said it should be kept. That decision was appealed to the school superintendent who in due course agreed with the committee. His assessment led to the parent appealing that judgment to the school board.

Then the parents and students supporting the book began organizing. They contacted Stacy Harbaugh at the Madison office of the ACLU and worked together on developing ideas for retaining Crutcher’s book. The parents:  Trish Paris, Teresa McMahon, Kelly Forman, Julie Sutter-Blair, Gregg Furseth and Tricia Droes; and the students: Bridget Droes, Dylan Paris, Taylor Forman and Patrick Blair created an outstanding public awareness campaign which brought more than 200 people to the school board’s meeting. The outcome of that gathering was that the book was kept in the curriculum. As Sandy Walejko, in attendance that night put it, “it was a great night for freedom.”

The Parents and Students of Belleville, WI High School who successfully defended the right to keep Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes in the curriculum will be recognized and honored on Monday evening, March 21, 2011 at the WEMTA Awards Banquet which will be held at the Monona Terrace Conference and Convention Center Madison, Wisconsin.

Financial support of the Intellectual Freedom Award is provided by and the Center for Information Policy Research at the UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

WLA Warns of Significant Threats to Libraries in Governor Walker’s Budget Proposal

The Wisconsin Library Association warns of significant threats to library service if Governor Walker’s proposed biennial budget is approved. Major reductions in school aids, shared revenue to municipalities and UW System aids will mean reduced access to information and professional librarians in public, K-12 and higher education libraries. Wisconsinites could experience reduced access to job training and search tools, interlibrary loan, legal and health information, and school library materials and computers.

“This budget threatens library service at a time when we should be investing in 21st century information resources for all Wisconsin citizens,” said WLA President Rhonda Puntney.  For instance, 10 percent cuts to BadgerLink, the statewide database of thousands of full text newspapers, journals and other resources, will mean the loss of comprehensive job training and search tools during a time of high unemployment.

Shared revenue cuts and the elimination of fair funding rules for membership in library consortia will likely result in curtailed service at many public libraries, with the closure of smaller libraries also possible.

“WLA acknowledges that many programs must share in the pain as our economy struggles to recover, but it is counterproductive to cut libraries when use is increasing and these institutions have been models of efficiency and resource sharing,” said Puntney.

During the last 5 years, public library visits have increased by more than 10% and loans of library materials have increased 15%. During the same time, the number of paid staff has increased less than 1%, according to statistics reported annually by public libraries to the Department of Public Instruction. Nationally, Wisconsin’s public libraries rank 8th in circulation, but 22nd for total operating revenue and 20th for paid library staff per capita.

In addition to lean times for public libraries, students in K-12 and higher education have also suffered the effects of budget cuts that have reduced professional staff to serve students and print and electronic materials. While librarians across the UW System have cooperated to increase shared collections and therefore reduce costs for all, those efficiencies could be threatened by a plan to spin-off UW-Madison, and potentially UW-Milwaukee, into a separate public authority. A $6 million initiative to boost statewide digital resources and make the UW System more competitive with institutions in other states was also not funded.

WLA asks legislators to restore funding levels to allow libraries to continue to share resources and provide the broadest possible access to information, to help grow Wisconsin’s economy and educate its citizenry.

2011 WLA Support Staff Conference: Call For Program Proposals

Planning for 2011 Wisconsin Library Association Support Staff Conference is underway!  The conference will be held May 25th at UWM in Milwaukee.

The Conference Planning Committee is now accepting proposals for programs from WLA members and other interested parties.
Proposals and recommendations for presentations, panels and workshops are welcome. Target areas for sessions from the Support Staff Section Survey and possible topic ideas include (but are not limited to):
•    Computer Skills, Emerging Technologies
•    Morale Boosters in Difficult Times
•    Managing Student Employees
•    Personnel Management
•    Political Involvement
•    The Library of the Future
•    Communication
•    What I learned on the job...
•    Small Libraries
•    Cataloging Serials
•    Circulation
To submit a breakout session proposal please forward the following information:
1. Abstract of the program (300 words or less).
2. Presenter name(s), institutional affiliation(s) and contact information.
3. Format (presentation, panel discussion, workshop, etc.).
4. Equipment needs.

Proposals are due by Tuesday, March 22, 2011.

Please send all proposals and questions electronically to Jessica Hutchings at:

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Library Legislative Day - Register for March 22 Rescheduled Event with Rally!

Library Legislative Day has been rescheduled: It will be held Tuesday, March 22 at Monona Terrace Convention Center. Register today! (If you registered for the original event, please re-register if you plan to attend; you do not need to pay again, of course.)

It is more important than ever that the funding needs of library programs be articulated to state legislators. Please join us for the largest library advocacy event of the year. This is held in conjunction with the WEMTA annual conference, and school librarians and their school colleagues will be able to join in much larger numbers than usual.

New feature! At 9:30 a.m. gather with your fellow library supporters on Olin Terrace (an outdoor space at Monona Terrace at the entrance to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard) and march to the State Capitol for a brief rally.

You do not need to register for Library Legislative Day (though we hope you will) to participate in the rally; please encourage all library supporters to join us on Olin Terrace at 9:30 a.m.

Please join WLA in thanking WEMTA for their generosity and flexibility as we reworked the LLD schedule within their conference.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Commmunique (WAPL newsletter) available online

The Spring issue of Communique, the newsletter of the Wisconsin Association of Public Libraries (WAPL), is now available at Back issues are also available

The Spring issue includes articles on:

• The Great Decision Series, a collaborative effort of libraries in Ozaukee County

• Library policies, procedures, and position descriptions

• Freegal, an online music service, in Brown County libraries

• Fox Cities Book Festival

and much more! Not the least of which is information about the upcoming WAPL 2011 Spring Conference, May 4-6 at the Sheraton Madison Hotel on John Nolen Drive.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Proposed Budget Cuts Shared Revenue, School Aids, UW System, Maintenance of Effort for Public Libraries

Governor Walker introduced the 2011-13 Executive State Budget (AB 40) in an address to a joint legislative session Tuesday at 4 p.m. He outlined cuts to shared revenue totaling $96 million in fiscal year 2012, and capped local levy increases at the greater of 0 percent or the gain in value due to net new construction, while also extending levy limits for two years.

K-12 school aids will be cut $749.4 million over the biennium. Revenue caps will be reduced 5.5 percent below those in place during fiscal year 2010-11.

In addition, the UW-Madison and the UW System will share cuts totaling $250 million. The budget also calls for UW-Madison to become an "independent public authority with greater flexibility to manage compensation, human resources, tuition and capital projects." The UW System would also be required to expend $250,000 to develop a plan to convert UW-Milwaukee to a public authority.

Budget documents also reveal elimination of maintenance of effort (MOE) funding for public libraries.  The budget document reads, "The Governor recommends eliminating the requirement that municipalities and counties maintain annual local expenditures for public libraries at the average of the prior three years as a condition for being a member of a public library system."

The move to eliminate MOE was expected as Walker had promised to provide local governments with "tools" and "flexibility" to help balance their budgets. In addition, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities had listed repeal of library MOE funding as a priority on their legislative agenda, and maintenance of effort had been targeted for elimination by Republican lawmakers in previous legislative sessions. The City of Milwaukee had also recently sought relief from MOE requirements.

The proposed budget appears to decrease by 10 percent funding for public library systems, BadgerLink and statewide contracts in the first year of the biennium, with flat funding in the second. DPI is continuing to analyze the budget to determine the detailed ramifications of the budget bill.

2011 Edible Book Festival is April 12 in Madison

The 2011 Edible Book Festival will be held on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, 4:00 - 6:30 PM,
Memorial Library Commons, Room 460 (728 State Street), UW-Madison.

Those who have attended previous festivals will recall that "edible book" festival entries are made of edible materials, with the subject pertaining to books in shape or content.  In the past, participating food artists, families, and groups have worked with cake, Jell-o, cheese, matzo and even Peeps!
This year's event is once again part of our celebration of National Library Week.
For more information about the event, including pictures from previous festivals, please visit:

Applications are due March 28.

We look forward to seeing you there!
Beth Harper and Kristina Glodoski, on behalf of Memorial Library Public Relations Committee.
Carrie Nelson, on behalf of Librarians' Assembly.