DATE: April 22, 2008
Library Legislative Caucus Formed
Sometimes talking about the importance of public libraries isn’t enough to ensure they get the funding they need. In tough economic times, struggling cities and towns often make cuts to their local library that jeopardize vital services to their residents.
State Representative Mark Falzone knows the importance of libraries, “Libraries are crucial to jobs, education, economic development, small businesses and entrepreneurs, and especially in a time of economic concern, have an ever-growing importance to our communities,” he stated. But this spring he has done more than talk about the importance of libraries, he has formed the Library Legislative Caucus to focus on the challenges facing our public library system.
Falzone recognizes that many cities and towns are facing financial challenges and sees increased funding to the State Aid to Public Libraries program as a way to ease local burden and keep libraries strong, “The Library Caucus will focus on ensuring that our libraries receive the essential state aid that enables them to take advantage of economies of scale and inter-library synergies so that each library location becomes a portal to our entire Massachusetts system of information and resources.”
The Library Legislative Caucus, which currently has more than 40 members, held its first meeting on April 11, 2008. Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) Chairperson, Em Claire Knowles, MBLC Director Robert C. Maier, and Maureen Killoran, MBLC Head of Public Library Advisory Unit and Government Liaison were invited to the meeting along with Jackie Rafferty, Massachusetts Library Association Legislative Committee Co-chair. Knowles spoke about the importance of having a caucus that was “dedicated to moving library issues forward.”
The complete MBLC Legislative Agenda is available at http://mblc.state.ma.us/mblc/legislative/initiatives/agenda2009.php.
The Board of Library Commissioners (mass.gov/mblc) is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.