Office for Government Relations
Federal Library Funding Cut in Proposed Budget
In March, President Barack Obama released his budget request for the 2015 fiscal year. The proposed budget for LSTA falls $2 million short from the $180.9 million enacted by the U.S. Congress for the 2014 fiscal year. The big hit came to the state program, with slight increases to the set aside for Native Americans and Hawaiians and the National Leadership grants. On a disappointing note, the President’s budget did not include any resources for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program. The budget did, however, include professional development funding for school librarians, teachers and leaders who provide high-speed internet access to students. The Obama Administration requested that $200 million dollars be allocated to ConnectEDucators, a new initiative that will ensure that school professionals are well-prepared to use high-speed internet resources in a way that improves classroom instruction and student learning. Two sign-on letters have circulated in the House and another two in the Senate: one supporting the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program and the other supporting LSTA funding. Both letters are asking for support for these programs in the 2015 fiscal year federal budget.
ALA Joins Internet Archive in Filing Supreme Court Amicus Brief
In March, the American Library Association and the Internet Archive joined forces to file a “friend of the court” brief in David Leon Riley v. State of California and United States v. Brima Wurie, two Appellate cases joined at the Supreme Court to examine the constitutionality of cell phone searches without a warrant after police arrests. In the amicus brief, both nonprofit organizations argue that warrantless cell phone searches violate privacy principles protected by the Fourth Amendment. In the brief, the Internet Archive and the American Library Association argued that reading choices are at the heart of the expectation of personal privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. Allowing police officers to rummage through the smartphones of arrestees is akin to giving government officials permission to search a person’s entire library and reading history.
ALA Honors Leaders with Freedom of Information Awards
During the 16th Annual Freedom of Information Day in Washington, D.C., ALA awarded the James Madison Award to President Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, the body of intelligence and legal experts tasked with assessing the United States’ surveillance practices. The James Madison Award honors, celebrates and recognizes groups and individuals who have championed for public access to government information. Additionally, ALA awarded the grassroots advocacy Eileen Cooke Award to the Open Government Project of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. ALA Immediate Past President Maureen Sullivan presented the awards at the Freedom of Information Day event.
Congress Introduces Harmful Open Access Act
In March, Representatives Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Larry Bucshon (R-IN) introduced the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology [FIRST] Act, H.R. 4186, a bill that challenges public access to tax-payer funded research. The ALA joined 15 other organizations in a letter (pdf) to Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space and Technology expressing opposition to Section 303 of the FIRST Act. Section 303 is a provision that would create unnecessary obstacles to the public’s ability to access research funded by tax-payers. ALA is encouraging members to contact their representatives to express their opposition to a bill that would delay the public’s right to information.
This was excerpted from EBD # 12.20 2013-2014 Report to Council and Executive Board April 4, 2014 from Keith Michael Fiels Executive Director.