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.

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