Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ron McCabe: Libraries Play a Key Role in Education

This column, by WLA President-elect Ron McCabe, appeared in the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune on June 24.

In our democracy, everyone is allowed and encouraged to participate in the political, social and economic life of their community, state and nation. Public education is the most powerful means we have to encourage and enable this participation. 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. Libraries allow us to share costly educational resources that we might not be able to purchase on our own. Today, networks of library cooperation expand this local sharing by providing access to library collections throughout the state and nation.

As president-elect of the Wisconsin Library Association, I am learning more everyday about the amazing contributions of libraries of all types to the education of the citizens of our state. Here are a few examples that relate to public libraries. I was surprised to learn that more people visit Wisconsin's public libraries every week than the Packers home game attendance in an entire season. There were 35.5 million public library visits in 2009. These visitors borrowed 65.6 million books and other materials that year.

Wisconsin is the No. 1 state in public library resource sharing. If all of the library materials borrowed from other libraries were purchased by home libraries, the Department of Public Instruction calculates the cost of these materials at more than $100 million per year. NorthStar Economics estimated the direct economic impact and the impact of Wisconsin public library services to be $753 million in 2008. In the same study, NorthStar estimated that the annual return per dollar of public tax support for Wisconsin's public libraries was $4.06.

The United States built the best system of public education in the world and the world's greatest economy. Since 1970, however, our country has declined in its educational performance compared to the rest of the developed world. In a recent international study, American 15-year-olds were ranked 15 of 34 nations in reading. Our students scored 17th in science and 25th in math. We cannot win the economic competition with other nations or even neighboring states if Wisconsin fails to provide a good education for its citizens. Supporting our school, technical college, university and community libraries contributes to the educational and economic success of our state and nation.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WLA and WLA Foundation Candidates for Office Announced

The Nominations & Elections Committee announces the following candidates for WLA and WLA Foundation offices:
  • WLA President-elect: Paula Ganyard, Director, Cofrin Library, UW-Green Bay; Julie Schneider, Director, Ebling Library, UW-Madison
  • ALA Councilor (WLA Board position): Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Manager, La Crosse Public Library; Lynn Stainbrook, Director, Brown County Library, Green Bay
  • WLA Foundation Director: Cheryl Becker, Public Library Administration Consultant, South Central Library System, Madison; Nikki Busch, Grants and Research Librarian, Memorial Library, UW-Madison
Congratulations to all candidates and thank you for offering to serve!

Ballots for these and unit elections will be provided to individual members of WLA no later than September 15. Results are announced by mid-October. Online ballots are provided for every member who provides an email address; others receive paper ballots. If you do not receive your ballot by September 15, please contact Brigitte Rupp Vacha at 608-245-3640 or email

Concealed Carry Bill Allows Libraries, Colleges, Universities to Ban Firearms with Notice

SB 93, a bill allowing individuals to carry concealed weapons (with conditions), was approved by both houses of the legislature and awaits Governor Walker's signature. The bill relaxes the prohibition on carrying weapons on school grounds to allow security personnel and others authorized by the school to do so. State and local units of government and their subunits (including libraries) and public and private universities and colleges are allowed to post notice in their buildings prohibiting an individual from entering with a concealed weapon.  Individuals violating the prohibition could be subject to a class B forfeiture (an amount up to $1,000). 

Signs notifying visitors of the weapons ban must be posted in a prominent place near all entrances to the building or part of the building where the restriction applies. Signs must be posted so that individuals entering the building "can be reasonably expected to see the sign."
Officials in the City of Madison and Dane County have already taken steps to ban firearms in public buildings. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported yesterday that the Milwaukee Public Library board approved a ban on firearms in its buildings. 

Public libraries should consult their city or county attorney for more details. Depending on when the bill is signed, it would take effect October 1 or November 1, 2011.

Monday, June 27, 2011

WLA Literary Award: "Burned: A Memoir" by Louise Nayer

The Literary Awards Committee of the Readers’ Section of the Wisconsin Library Association has chosen Burned: A Memoir by Louise Nayer of San Francisco (B.A. Madison, 1971) as the winner of the 2011 Wisconsin Library Association Literary Award, given for the highest literary achievement by a Wisconsin author for a book published in 2010.

Burned: A Memoir is a beautifully written, touching, and emotionally charged story of a family and the tragic event that changed their lives forever. Weezie is only 4 when the accident happens. Through her young eyes we see the struggle of her parents to recover not only their physical but emotional selves in the aftermath of horrific injuries. Weezie and her sister, swept away to other caregivers, struggle to understand what has happened and to believe they will be reunited with their parents.

“In recreating the setting, emotions, and dialogue, Nayer writes in a way that makes the reader feel like a part of the story,” said Jean Anderson, Co-Chair of the Literary Awards Committee. “We want to reach out and stop Weezie’s mom from lighting the match that ignited the fire. We are deeply touched by the resilience and strength shown by the author and her family and are grateful she chose to share her story with us.”

The Wisconsin Library Association Literary Award is made possible by a grant from the WLA Foundation.

Also recognized this year is Bette Pesetsky, who is being honored as the 2011 Notable Wisconsin Author for her body of work. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Pesetsky’s works include: Stories up to a Point, Author from a Savage People, Digs, Midnight Sweets, Confessions of a Bad Girl, The Late Night Muse, Cast a Spell, as well as many short stories published in anthologies and periodicals.

The 2011 Outstanding Achievement awards for 2010 publications include the following 10 titles by Wisconsin authors.
•    Deborah Blum (Madison)—The Poisoner’s Handbook
•    M. Caren Connolly & Louis Wasserman (Milwaukee), and
Zane Williams (Madison)—Wisconsin’s Own: Twenty Remarkable Homes
•    Susanna Daniel (Madison)—Stiltsville
•    Lesley Kagen (Cedarburg)—Tomorrow River
•    Danielle L. McGuire (Janesville)—At the Dark End of the Street
•    Michael Schumacher (Milwaukee/Kenosha)—Will Eisner: A Dreamer’s Life in Comics
•    Mona Simpson (Green Bay)—My Hollywood
•    Skibell, Joseph (Madison)—A Curable Romantic
•    Patrick Somerville (Green Bay)—The Universe in Miniature in Miniature
•    Mary Helen Stefaniak (Milwaukee)—The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia

The 2011 Outstanding Achievement in Poetry awards for 2010 titles include the following four titles by Wisconsin authors.
•    B. J. Best (West Bend)—Birds of Wisconsin: Poems
•    Rebecca Dunham (Milwaukee)—The Flight Cage: Poems
•    Nick Lantz (Madison)—We Don’t Know, We Don’t Know
•    Nick Lantz (Madison)—The Lightning that Strikes the Neighbors’ House

The 2011 Literary Awards Committee members are: Jean Anderson (co-chair), Pat Chevis, Katrina Collins, Jane Jorgenson, Amy Lutzke (co-chair), Anne Paterson, Gerard Saylor, Andrew Scott, Deb Shapiro, and Jean Yeomans.

For more information about the work of the Literary Awards Committee, visit

Governor Walker's Partial Veto of WiscNet Language: Analysis of Impact Not Completed

The Office of Governor Scott Walker released the governor's remarks on the state budget and the governor's partial veto of some measures, including the compromise language on WiscNet. It's possible that the partial veto requires the entire legislature to act, rather than just allowing Joint Finance to postpone the effective date of prohibitions on the UW's telecommunications involvement. It's unclear at this point, but UW officials are analyzing the language. Stay tuned for more information as we learn it.

Copied directly from the memo:
Joint Committee on Finance Authority to Postpone Telecommunications Services Prohibition
Section 1015x
This section defines telecommunications services and third-party entity and, beginning July 1, 2013, prohibits the University of Wisconsin System from becoming a member, shareholder or partner in any third-party entity or other person that offers, resells, or provides telecommunications services to the general public or to any public or private entity unless the third-party entity or other person does not offer, resell or provide telecommunication services that it did not offer, resell, or provide on June 15, 2011, and the third-party entity or other person does not offer, resell, or provide telecommunications services to a private entity, to the general public, or to a public entity other than a university or a university-affiliated research facility or a facility approved by the Joint Committee on Finance that it is not already serving on June 15, 2011. The section allows the Joint Committee on Finance to postpone the July 1, 2013, effective date for these prohibitions through majority vote.

I am partially vetoing this section to remove the authority of the Joint Committee on Finance to postpone these prohibitions because the University of Wisconsin System should not compete with private sector businesses in providing telecommunications services. The bill does not prohibit the University of Wisconsin System from participating in a third-party comprised entirely of universities and university-affiliated research facilities. There is no need to delay the prohibitions included in the bill beyond July 1, 2013.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Audrey Barbakoff, Milwaukee Public Library, Receives FTRF Conable Conference Scholarship

CHICAGO - The Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) is pleased to announce that Audrey Barbakoff, a reference librarian with the Milwaukee Public Library, is the fourth recipient of the Gordon M. Conable Conference Scholarship.  The Conable Scholarship will provide for Barbakoff’s expenses to attend the 2011 American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in New Orleans.

As part of the scholarship, Barbakoff will attend various FTRF and other intellectual freedom meetings and programs at the conference, consult with a mentor/board member and present a report about her experiences and thoughts.  She will be recognized at the FTRF Annual Member Reception from 5 - 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 23 in room 354 of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Barbakoff holds a B.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of Washington, which she received in 2010.  In her capacity at the Milwaukee Public Library, she provides reference and readers’ advisory services; coordinates programs and displays; and blogs.  She also coordinates the Teen Advisory Board and leads preschool story times.  Barbakoff is a member of the WLA's Intellectual Freedom Round Table and recently had an article about the ethics of filtering computers in public libraries published on the peer reviewed website In the Library with the Lead Pipe.  This will be her first ALA Conference.

“Audrey’s application stood out amongst a group of excellent applicants because of her eloquent and passionate advocacy for policies and practices that protect the intellectual freedom rights of all library users in today’s digital environment.  The committee also was impressed by her dedication to library services for young people, from preschool to teens,” said Conable Scholarship Committee Chair Candace Morgan.

The Conable Scholarship was created to advance two principles that Gordon Conable held dear: intellectual freedom and mentorship.  Gordon Conable was a California librarian and intellectual freedom champion who served several terms as president of the Freedom to Read Foundation.  His unexpected death in 2005 inspired his wife, Irene Conable and the FTRF Board to create the Conable Fund, which provides funding for the Conable Scholarship. 

To donate to the Conable Fund, please visit or call (800) 545-2433 x4226.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

AWSL to meet with SLIS students

As part of the Special Libraries class at the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies, come down to the Memorial Union Terrace in Madison around 4:30 on Wednesday, June 29 and meet students taking the class. Last year, eight special librarians joined about the same number of students to enjoy a beautiful evening by the lake. If it rains, we'll meet in Der Rathskeller. All special librarians are welcome!

Contact Carrie Doyle at or 608-338-2142 with questions. We hope to see you there!

Monday, June 20, 2011

WLA Board Approves Federal Legislative Agenda

The WLA Board accepted the LD&L recommendation to accept the federal legislative agenda proposed by Julie Schneider, WLA's federal legislative advocate. Though there are many other federal legislative issues, this agenda provides the focus for WLA's communications to members throughout the next year. Issues on the agenda include federal funding for various library programs, measures to improve access to federal research and government information, net neutrality, school library staffing; support and protection of e-rate funding; and other issues.

Rome Public Library Seeks to More than Double Size

The Lester Public Library of Rome is looking to raise $900,000 for an expansion of the library from 2,500 square feet to 6,000 square feet. The Wisconsin Rapids Tribune reports that the South Central Public Library System recommended that the library be expanded to 12,000 square feet to serve the community properly. However, city officials wanted that scaled back. Director Lore Ponshock estimates that about 50 children attend summer library program throughout the week.

The library capacity according to fire codes is a maximum of 30 people. Early plans for the new library include a program room that would hold 60-85.

Jeanne Radke, Cambria Director, Retires

Since June 10, 1983, Jeanne Radke has been director of Cambria Public Library, welcoming first graders, planning reading groups and working with the historical society and local service groups on library programs.

“We’re not just here for books,” Radke said. “I’ve been pleased for our library that several times a family has come in that is thinking about buying a house here, but they check out the library first.”


Friday, June 17, 2011

Your Mom Would Remind You to Say Thank You

One of the most important advocacy tasks now before us is to thank members of the legislature for their support of library-related items in the state budget. Even though not everything we wanted is in the budget, libraries are in a better position now than when the governor's budget was introduced earlier this year. There are a number of things to be grateful for:
  • $512,000 in biennial funding was restored for BadgerLink and Newsline for the Blind
  • $183,400 in biennial funding was restored for the Talking Book and Braille Library
  • WiscNet will continue for another 2 years, and the UW's federal broadband grant also continues, under a compromise hammered out by UW officials and legislative leadership
Please thank your legislators today. The Legislative Alert we've created gives you an easy way to do that.

When you thank them, make sure to remind legislators that we are pleased with the compromise on WiscNet and we ask that Republican legislators communicate that to Governor Walker.

Of course, we would be remiss not to thank you for responding to the many legislative alerts and updates that were sent out about budget matters. Working together, we can make a difference!

Senate Approves Budget 19-14, No Changes to Assembly Version

According to the Wispolitics Budget Blog, the State Senate approved the 2011-13 biennial budget on a 19-14 party line vote at about 10 p.m. last night. There were no successful attempts to amend the budget; therefore, the Assembly version stands.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

WiscNet, Broadband Grant Restored by Assembly

According to a report by the WisPolitics Budget Blog, the Assembly passed the 2011-13 budget bill on a straight party line vote, modifying Joint Finance provisions that would have eliminated the UW's broadband grant and crippled WiscNet.

A memo from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau describes the motion containing these and many other provisions amending the budget bill. Items #11 through 13 on pages 28-30 of the memo describe the changes related to WiscNet and the UW's involvement in telecommunications issues.

First, item #11 deletes the Joint Finance amendment that would have prohibited the UW from accepting the federal broadband grant altogether. The memo says, "Instead, specify that UW-Extension could not commit any funds to facilities under this project to which such funds were not committed prior to June 15, 2011, unless approved by the Joint Committee on Finance."

Item #12 essentially restores WiscNet operations but requires the Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct a financial and performance evaluation audit of the Board of Regents' use of broadband and telecommunications services by January 1, 2013. Joint Finance language limiting the UW's involvement in the provision of telecommunications services would not take effect until July 1, 2013, and Joint Finance would be authorized to further delay the effective date of those changes. The Assembly language also created an exemption that would allow the UW to remain involved in certain activities that existed on or prior to June 15, 2011.

In addition, the UW-Extension would be prohibited from committing any additional funds to facilities under their federal broadband grant that were not committed prior to June 15, 2011, unless approved by Joint Finance.

Finally, there were some changes in language defining telecommunications services (#13 on page 30) that will limit the UW's involvement in telecommunications issues but appear to soften the language approved earlier by Joint Finance. Expect to hear more about the ramifications of the amendments from the UW.

Please contact your State Representatives to thank them for this action. And make contacts with your State Senators to make sure this compromise is approved in that house when they take up the budget this week.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Compromise on WiscNet Seemed Close, But Telcos Push Back

Tuesday's public statements by legislative leadership, such as those reported by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and hours of negotiation on WiscNet and the UW's federal broadband grant have not yet resulted in compromise budget bill language. Despite several Republican lawmakers requesting that WiscNet and the broadband grant be allowed to continue, lobbying by the Wisconsin State Telecommunications is apparently creating doubt for legislative leadership about the best way to proceed.

Our sources state that the NTIA and FCC rankings referenced by WSTA are mainly residential connections; they also reference speeds of at least 3Mbps. The UW's broadband project would expand fiber to not-for-profit and public sector entities and provide speeds of 1,000Mpbs at significantly lower prices than those currently available through BadgerNet. While BadgerNet pricing will likely become less expensive through pending renegotiation of those contracts, the UW project would have a return on investment of less than 5 years.

WLA stands by the editorial by WLA President Rhonda Puntney that appeared in The Capital Times online and in today's issue of their weekly print edition. WLA also stands by a similar statement sent to legislators last week and urges all library supporters to keep up the pressure on legislators to craft a compromise that would retain current WiscNet operations and allow the UW broadband project to move forward.

Friday, June 10, 2011

June 3 Letter from UW Officials on Joint Finance Actions

The following letter was widely distributed throughout the UW System last Friday, June 3:
Dear UW System Colleagues,
Late Friday, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) completed its work on the proposed 2011-13 biennial budget bill, including provisions related to the University of Wisconsin System. Keeping with the budget proposal submitted by Governor Walker, the committee approved a $250-million reduction in state taxpayer support for UW System over the next two years. Legislators offered many significant amendments to the bill, preserving our unified UW System and offering many long-sought administrative flexibilities to all UW institutions.
Here is a brief summary of the JFC amendments:
Here is the official public statement we issued after the committee vote:
People from around the state (including many of you) spoke up in support of preserving a unified UW System that includes UW-Madison, and Legislators listened. UW Regents, Chancellors, and other state leaders argued convincingly in favor of new administrative flexibilities for all UW institutions, and the JFC amendment reflects significant progress in that area. At the same time, however, the combination of reduced funding and capped tuition revenues will put tremendous pressure on every UW institution and every academic department. 
Recognizing that pressure, we will continue the process of delegating maximum operational flexibility to every institution in the System. We will also continue to advocate strongly for the wisdom of an integrated system that serves the needs of UW stakeholders with quality, accessibility, and efficiency. The UW System has done that over its 40-year history. With the changes the budget bill will allow us to make, and further changes we will continue to request of the state, all our institutions together can chart a course for the 21st century in the spirit of a renewed Wisconsin Idea. 
As the budget bill continues to make its way through the legislative process, we must work to ensure that all new administrative flexibilities from the state remain intact when the bill is signed into law. We must also address some specific areas of concern, such as new language that would undermine the WiscNet network that serves all UW campuses as well as cities, K-12 schools, libraries, hospitals, and hundreds of other members across the state. This same legislative language presents a major threat to several grant-funded partnerships, including the Metropolitan Unified Fiber Network (MUFN) project led by UW-Madison and the Building Community Capacity through Broadband (BCCB) project led by UW-Extension.
We will be reviewing the biennial budget developments with the full Board of Regents on Thursday morning at UW-Milwaukee. That meeting will be webcast live, and you are welcome to tune in for the discussion. A link to the live stream will be posted Thursday morning at and at
Thank you for your hard work on behalf of the UW, and your attention to these important developments. We will do our best to keep you well informed in the days and months ahead. 
Charles Pruitt, President, UW System Board of Regents
Kevin P. Reilly, President, UW System

Thursday, June 09, 2011

K-12 School Mandate Relief Bill Fails in Committee, Preserves Common School Fund Purpose

On Thursday, June 9, Assembly Bill 130, failed to pass committee by a vote of 5-6. Referred to by its supporters as a K-12 "mandate relief" bill, it would have, among other changes, removed the 25 percent limit on computer purchases with Common School Fund (CSF) proceeds. Current law requires schools districts to spend the CSF proceeds on materials and instructional resources for the library, except that up to 25% can be spent on school library computers and related software. One concern expressed by school librarians and others was that some districts would appropriate too much for computers and other hardware at the expense of educational content for those devices.

Voting against the bill: Representatives Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), Evan Wynn (R-Whitewater), Sondy Pope-Roberts (D-Middleton), Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee), Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), and Fred Clark (D-Baraboo).

Reports are that there was significant discussion about the Common School Fund provision, with Representative Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) suggesting he might draft an amendment to the bill to move the cap from 25% to 50%. Wynn stated that he would not vote for the bill on the floor unless an amendment was added to protect the Common School Fund.
The Senate version, SB 95, was voted out of committee by a vote of 4-3 earlier this week.  

WLA Letter to Legislators About WiscNet

Your response to WLA's legislative alert has been tremendous. In addition to getting the word out to library supporters, WLA has also sent this letter to all legislators and Governor Walker, outlining our support for WiscNet and broadband expansion. A similar letter has been sent to several newspapers; we encourage you to add your own story (e.g., how much would Internet cost for your organization if WiscNet goes away?) and contact your local paper with this information.

On Friday, June 3, the state legislature's Joint Committee on Finance passed Motion 489 that would eliminate WiscNet as a department or office within the UW-Madison Department of Information Technology and eliminate $1.4 million in funding for WiscNet for 2012-13. The motion would also require the UW to return federal grant money that has already been awarded for a broadband expansion project, apparently because of concerns that that this project competes with BadgerNet.

We respectfully ask that you save taxpayers millions of dollars and move to delete sections 23-26 of Motion 489 on the floor of the legislature before the budget bill is approved and sent to Governor Walker for his signature.

It seems helpful first to define WiscNet and BadgerNet, since confusion exists about the difference between the two and how they would be affected by the UW-Extension’s federal broadband grant project. The Department of Administration (DOA) website describes BadgerNet Converged Network (BCN, or BadgerNet) as the “state-wide network serving all 72 counties by providing wide area network, Internet transport and video applications to state government and educational entities in Wisconsin. The BCN also provides network services to municipalities and other governmental entities such as Tribal nations, technical colleges and public and private K-12 schools in various locations in the state.”

WiscNet is one of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) listed by DOA for non-state agency BadgerNet customers. WiscNet was created in 1990 by the UW, long before most telephone companies could even be called ISPs.  Information from WiscNet indicates that the $1.4 million cut by Joint Finance is not a subsidy to WiscNet from the UW, but payment for technical support services provided by WiscNet.

WiscNet has become the ISP of choice for 450 educational and community institutions: all public institutions of higher education, 95% of public libraries and 80% of schools currently use WiscNet. If WiscNet operations are changed as proposed by Joint Finance, these institutions would pay two to three times MORE for Internet service from for-profit vendors. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that taxpayers would foot the increased bill, or library patrons and students in your district would no longer have the access they need and want. But the cost is much greater than just dollars. The successful cooperative and collaborative network that WiscNet has fostered between higher education, K-12 education and libraries for the past 16 years could disappear.

For-profit telecommunications companies, some represented by AccessWisconsin, seem most concerned about the UW-Extension’s federal broadband grant project, already underway. AccessWisconsin members, who are valued partners in BadgerNet, say that they should not have to compete with a taxpayer-funded agency. The irony is that telecommunications companies, including AccessWisconsin members, currently benefit from about $90 million annually in taxpayer funding through the Universal Service Fund to enhance their ability to provide cost-effective service in rural areas.  We would say that is a wise investment.
AccessWisconsin also argues that the federal broadband grant to UW-Extension is a duplication of BadgerNet that would weaken that network. While BadgerNet provides great benefit to many institutions (with a taxpayer subsidy of $16.8 million annually, by the way), pricing is still too high for many institutions.  BadgerNet provides 100Mbps service at $6,000 per month and a 1,000Mbps service at $49,500 – or almost $600,000 per year! If the UW grant project is completed, an institution will be able to get 1,000Mbps for only $10,000 annually.  While BadgerNet prices are currently under negotiation and may be decreased somewhat, the return on the investment of the UW project is clear.

Finally, we find it difficult to understand why AccessWisconsin is so opposed to a federal broadband grant when its members in fact sought a similar grant for themselves. DOA and the BadgerNet Access Alliance (BNAA), which includes AccessWisconsin and larger telecommunications companies, received $23 million in federal funding to enhance BadgerNet via expansion of broadband fiber throughout the state.  WLA met with BadgerNet vendors several times during the grant process and supported the DOA/BNAA federal grant proposal. Imagine our frustration when the needs of 467 schools and libraries were dashed because BNAA and DOA could not successfully negotiate the contract, and the money was returned to the federal government.

We also understand that the UW used an open bid process to seek a partnership with for-profit phone companies on their broadband project, but none agreed to participate.

Please move to delete sections 23-26 of Motion 489 on the floor of the legislature before the budget bill is sent to Governor Walker for his signature. Please keep WiscNet as it currently operates and also allow the UW broadband project to move forward.

Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.

Rhonda Puntney, President
Wisconsin Library Association

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

President Rhonda Puntney's Remarks on Advocacy for Support Staff Conference

WLA President Rhonda Puntney was asked to give a brief address to welcome Support Staff One-day Conference attendees on May 25. Here are her remarks:
About a month or two in to my WLA presidency, I began to realize that we are all in a unique position to advocate not only for ourselves, but also for our libraries and our patrons, regardless of where we’re employed.  Advocacy has become an integral part of my daily routine, in and out of the office.  I particularly realized this one day shortly after Lisa Strand, the WLA executive director, and I cancelled Library Legislative Day in February.

I returned home after a doctor’s appointment to pick up my laptop and the inevitable stack of work I’d taken home over the weekend (and barely glanced at) and I quickly scanned my email.  We have voice-over-IP phones at Lakeshores, which is great because I can quickly see who’s called and hear the message from my email when I’m home.  On that particular day, the message I’d received was from John Berry, the editor-in-chief for Library Journal.  He wanted to talk to ME – ME – about the events going on in Madison.  And he wanted to talk about why we cancelled Library Legislative Day.

Instead of being cool, calm, and collected – and promptly returning his phone call, I called Lisa.  And I called a friend from ALA Council, someone I knew who knew John Berry.

So when I did finally return his phone call, I had a list of things – talking points – ready to go and the confidence in myself to articulate what I wanted to tell him about our situation in Wisconsin.  I commented then to John Berry, and he used it in his column in the March 15th edition of LJ, that I was “guardedly optimistic” about how we’d fare with the legislature, and our local funding agencies.

Charles Simic’s comments in the New York Review of Books on May 22nd on the death of public libraries called “A Country without Libraries”, draws attention to the issues of funding libraries.  I found this paragraph particularly telling:

“I heard some politician say recently that closing libraries is no big deal, since the kids now have the Internet to do their reading and school work.  It’s not the same thing.  As any teacher who recalls the time when students still went to libraries and read books could tell him, study and reflection come more naturally to someone bent over a book.  Seeing others, too, absorbed in their reading, holding up or pressing down on different-looking books, some intimidating in their appearance, others inviting, makes one a participant in one of the oldest and most noble human activities. Yes, reading books is a slow, time-consuming, and often tedious process.  In comparison, surfing the Internet is a quick, distracting activity in which one searches for a specific subject, finds it, and then reads about it—often by skipping a great deal of material and absorbing only pertinent fragments.  Books require patience, sustained attention to what is on the page, and frequent rest periods for reverie, so that the meaning of what we are reading settles in and makes its full impact.”

While I wholeheartedly agree with his statements here, as well as with the rest of his article, he neglected to cast an eye upon the aspects of library service beyond books and the internet that make all types of libraries in Wisconsin an integral part of their communities, whether it’s the small town community center focused public library, one of the many academic libraries on our college and technical school campuses, the large public library with several branches, or specialized libraries.

We are about so much more than books and free wi-fi.

What makes us strong is our adaptability, our ability to see beyond the demise of our esoteric view of the “library” as an Charles Simic’s traditional institutional icon.  I see that adaptability reflected in today’s breakout sessions on RFID, multimedia software, certification, customer service, degree completion, and “Semanticloud.0”.  (Which I have to confess, I had to look that up!  And I did exactly what Charles Simic warns against!)

How many of us got our jobs in libraryland or decided to back to school to become a librarian with a hazy mental image ourselves sitting behind a desk and READING?  How many of us had that bubble burst within the first five minutes actually on the job?  And let’s be realistic, how many of us today would find that challenging?

I also found it interesting that Charles Simic did not see how we’ve evolved from that iconic library to vibrant places of learning where all types of media are embraced for learning and recreational activities, and that at the center of it all he would have found US.  Those of us for whom “informational literacy” and “critical thinking” are more than a buzz words.  Those of us who don’t cringe from proselytizing the virtues of today’s public library to their neighbor in line at Pick and Save or Woodman’s.  And one of us who would still tell the editor-in-chief of Library Journal that she is “guardedly optimistic” about Wisconsin’s libraries.  We are the ones who make libraries strong.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Access Wisconsin Applauds Joint Finance Action on WiscNet

Access Wisconsin, one of the managing partners of the BadgerNet Converged Network, issued a statement today, applauding Joint Finance Committee Motion 489, which eliminates WiscNet as an office or department of the UW-Madison's Department of Information Technology. 

Access Wisconsin is a group of smaller, local telecommunications companies that partner with Verizon, AT&T, CenturyTel and KDL to make up the BCN. 

Read the statement by Access Wisconsin's President and CEO, Mark Weller:

Monday, June 06, 2011

End of WiscNet? Joint Finance Eliminates UW-Madison WiscNet Office in DoIT

TAKE ACTION: WLA's Legislative Alert
In addition to requiring the return of federal broadband funds, the Omnibus University of Wisconsin System motion passed Friday (Motion 489) by the state legislature's Joint Committee on Finance included the following provision:
"Specify that WiscNet could no longer be a department or office within the UW-Madison Division of Information Technology beginning on July 1, 2012, and delete $1,400,000 PR from the UW System related to WiscNet in 2012-13. Require the Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct a program audit and a financial audit of the Board of Regents' use of telecommunication services and relationship with WiscNet."

The note in the motion indicates under current law, the Board of Regents is prohibited from providing telecommunication services that are available from a private telecommunications carrier to the general public or any other public or private entity. Currently, WiscNet services more than 450 public and private research, education and government organizations. According to Bob Bocher, Division for Libraries consultant and a WiscNet board member, WiscNet provides about 95% of libraries and about 80% of school districts with Internet access. The cost of receiving this service through private vendor is estimated to be two to three times higher than through WiscNet. See the WiscNet website for more information.

WLA will be developing a legislative alert to be issued later today or early tomorrow. Please stay tuned.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Joint Finance Passes Omnibus UW System Motion: No to Separate UW-Madison, Broadband Funds

The Joint Finance Committee tonight passed an Omnibus Motion on the University of Wisconsin System that includes, among other items, the decision to not spin UW-Madison off as a separate public entity and prohibits the system from providing telecommunications services and accepting federal broadband funds. The latter would stop a project underway to expand broadband through Community Area Networks (CANs) to about 80 libraries and schools, among other entities, and return millions to the federal government.

WLA pushed for acceptance of an earlier broadband grant of more than $23 million that would have expanded BadgerNet for more than 450 schools and libraries. The state returned that grant earlier this year after the Department of Administration was unable to negotiate an agreement between telecommunications providers and the National Telecommunication and Information Administration. The UW System grant had remained as an opportunity to add capacity for a smaller number of schools and libraries.

It is possible that further amendments to the budget bill will occur on the floor of the legislature after Joint Finance completes its work. Stay tuned!

You can read more about Joint Finance activities on the WisPolitics Budget Blog or view proceedings live (or archived) at WisconsinEye.

Joint Finance Reduces Cuts to Municipalities; Eliminates Emergency Services MOE

On June 2, the state legislature's Joint Finance Committee voted to eliminate the emergency services maintenance of effort funding requirement and restored some of the shared revenue cuts for counties and municipalities.

Omnibus Motion 450, passed on vote of 11-4, provided a net reduction in shared revenue payments of $76,750,000, rather than the reduction of $96,000,000 proposed by Governor Walker. The committee also eliminated the requirement that counties and municipalities maintain their level of spending for emergency services at the 2009 level. This emergency services maintenance of effort law was passed in the prior biennium.

Note that the governor had eliminated maintenance of effort funding for public libraries in his budget proposal. Efforts to restore MOE for public libraries have not been successful to date.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Joint Finance Restores Funding to Talking Book & Braille Library, State Law Library

The state legislature's Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) is scheduled to meet again today and tomorrow to complete its work on the 2011-13 state budget.

On May 26, JFC approved one-time funding of $41,000 to the State Law Library for the purchase of West's National Law Reporter System on CD-ROM. On May 27, the committee also voted 16-0 to restore $183,400 for the Talking Book and Braille Library for the biennium. In action in May 3, the committee voted 16-0 to restore $512,000 to BadgerLink.(Restoration of funding refers to changes to the governor's budget proposal, which proposed 10% cuts to all library-related programs in the first year of the biennium.)

Although the State Law Library allocation was provided from general purpose revenue (GPR), other library-related funding is provided via the Universal Service Funds, or SEG funding. Thus far, funding has not been restored for public library systems or the remaining statewide resource contracts (Cooperative Children's Book Center, Milwaukee Public Library or WiLS). In addition, maintenance of effort funding for public libraries is still slated for elimination. WLA seeks restoration of maintenance of effort and library-related funding not yet restored and has issued several legislative alerts to members on these matters.

You can hear or watch JFC proceedings live and archived on WisconsinEye.

WLA Conference to feature Scott Dikkers, Onion Founder, and More

Join us at the WLA Conference, November 1-4 at the Milwaukee Hilton and Frontier Airlines Center! What other event can bring together such a fantastic pool of talented professionals like this year’s keynoter, internationally renowned speaker Stephen Abram, as well as the engaging and nationally recognized children’s writer/illustrator Tad Hills, or Mike Gousha, Distinguished Fellow in Law and Public Policy at Marquette University Law School, and contributing anchor and reporter for WISN-TV in Milwaukee, plus over 70 training/informational sessions to choose from?  Add to this the wonderful WLA/WLAF Annual Awards Dinner, interesting tours, state of the art trade show exhibits, an autograph garden, and an opportunity to take part in the fun WLA Foundation Fundraiser at the hip nightspot, Spin Milwaukee!

And, of course, there’s the city itself!

Milwaukee offers you so many cultural and entertainment options before, between and/or after events.  The Historic Third Ward, with its variety of dining and theatre options; the Milwaukee PAC; the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Bradley Center; Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin; The Milwaukee Public Museum; Pabst Theatre; the Milwaukee Zoo; excellent shopping; Miller Brewery tours (and tastings)…even the Potawatomi Casino. Our conference hotel, the beautiful Hilton Milwaukee City Center also offers you options, such as a Starbuck’s and the Milwaukee Chop House. (If you decide to extend your stay into the weekend, the hotel even  features Paradise Landing, the first urban indoor water park!) 

Speaking of speakers…Look who’s speaking at the President’s Luncheon

He's probably created more viral internet content than anyone alive. His podcasts have been ranked #1 by iTunes more years running than any other. His work has won more Webby Awards than any single individual or organization. He founded the world's first humor website. He's Scott Dikkers, the American humor pioneer who founded The Onion and served as its editor-in-chief for nearly two decades. He recently left The Onion to start Dikkers Cartoon Company ( to make short cartoons, comics and other fun stuff for all audiences. 
We’re sure you’ll be glad you included the President’s Luncheon on your calendar “to do” list.  What a great way to wrap up a memorable conference.  See you there!
--Michael Kenney, 2011 WLA Conference Publicity Chair