2015 Legislative Session

Good News!

The School Library Books and Electronic Resources line item wins!!

We are celebrating! In the 2015-16 school year, funding for these critical resources will triple, from $550,000 to $1,600,000! And for the next year, the base amount (ongoing funding) has been increased from $550,000 to $850,000. In other words, at the opening of the 2016 Legislative Session, we will start with $300,000 more than we did at the opening of the 2015 Session, but we’ll need everyone’s help to build both on-going and one-time-only funds again.

The schoollibraryPALS Steering Committee is especially grateful to President Wayne Niederhauser for his excellent advice prior to the session and his continuing support.. We thank the sponsors of our budget proposal, Senator Stuart Adams and Representative Francis Gibson, who diligently followed the request through multiple meetings and we appreciate the actions of the leadership of both the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee and the Executive Appropriations Committee. However, in the end, it took the votes of many legislators from these two committees to pass the appropriation and surpass the sum we requested.

School Library Journal Article

Ignore the headline and outdated figures in the article below! The story from School Library Journal, written by Lauren Barack, traces the various updates to our school library resources budget proposal as the 2015 Legislative Session progressed and sometimes it is hard to follow. The final outcome, seen in boldface, is that $1,600,000 (!!) will be available to purchase school library books and electronic resources in the coming school year.

A quick note, all members of the schoollibraryPALS Steering Committee are volunteers. Therefore, we refer to ourselves as "advocates," not "lobbyists". Steering Committee members not mentioned in the article are Fawn Morgan, Gwen Knight, Kathy Gambles, Lori Komlos, Rosette' Acord and Sarah Herron. Also, this success comes in large part from your efforts. There now number 800 schoollibraryPALS, so you can imagine the effect if everyone takes part in the email campaigns. We urge you to email the members of the two committees to thank them. I'm always surprised at the reaction of legislators to "thank you messages". Apparently, they get lots of requests, but seldom are thanked. Think of 800 thank-you emails.... (See email addresses below the School Library Journal article.)

“School library program advocates Fawn Morgan,
Sharyl Smith and Lori Komlos" ready to meet with
UT legislators.

Updated: Utah Legislature to Vote on $1,050,000K Increase for School Libraries

By Lauren Barack on March 9, 2015

(Updated: March 30, 2015 at 8:16 p.m. ET) Utah’s school libraries have won an additional $500,000 for the new books, electronic resources, and other materials for the upcoming 2015–2016 school year budget, pending the final vote by the state legislature this week.

Advocate Sharyl Smith and others had not given up the fight for more school library funding, which School Library Journal reported on during February of last year, and celebrated the decision to increase the school library budget made by the state’s Executive Appropriation Committee last week.

“In the coming school year, school libraries will have $1,050,000 [total] to spend expressly on school library books and electronic resources,” wrote Smith by email.

Correction: March 30, 2015 at 8:16 p.m. ET: According to Ben Leishman, fiscal analyst for Public Education in the Utah State Legislature, the Utah legislature approved $1.6 million total for the 2015–2016 school year for School Library Books and Electronic Resources. The funding for the year was originally for $550,000, and the increase was for $1,050,000. The budget for the 2016–2017 school year will start with a $850,000 base.

While the outcome isn’t yet official, Smith, a former school district administrator in Utah and retired faculty member from the University of Washington Information School, is celebratory in seeing the efforts of her year-plus long push for school library funding, along with efforts by other members of the Utah organization Parents Advocating Libraries in Schools (PALS), including Barbara Smith, school board member for Utah’s Davis School District, and Anne Diekema, an assistant professor at Utah State University, finally see the light of day.

Meeting with multiple leaders from Utah’s House and Senate and convincing majority whips from both houses to sponsor their proposal, members of the PALS Steering Committee had stayed active, advocating for more funding using methods such as emailing legislators with uniform subject lines titled “Save the Line Item”—among other pursuits—to keep school libraries front and center in the eyes of lawmakers.

“We’ve provided field trips for legislators and members of the governor’s staff to see teacher librarians instructing elementary school students in information literacy skills and applications,” says Smith by email. “Additionally, every year we award a ’Best Listener Award‘ to one representative and one senator. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek, because it sounds so ‘schoolmarmish,’ but we want to recognize those lawmakers who really ‘get it.’”

Nationally, school librarians and libraries are having to play a larger role in advocating not just for their positions, but for their funding as well. The American Library Association’s American Association of School Librarians even offers a website dedicated to online links, tools, and other information on how to help school libraries and librarians arm themselves in advocacy.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert had pushed for an increase in education funding across his state as well, asking for $500 million for schools for the coming fiscal year. While the proposed budget lawmakers preliminarily passed last week reportedly was just half of that amount, it did expand funding for school libraries.

School libraries have seen their ups and downs in terms of funding for the past seven years. A single appropriation of $2 million in 2007 dropped to $1.5 million in 2008, then careened to $500,000 in the 2009–2010 school year. A small increase of $50,000 brought the overall budget to $550,000 in 2013, where it sat until the increase from $550,000 to $1,050,000 last week.

While it’s not definite when the budget vote will take place this week, lawmakers from Utah’s full legislature will need to pass a final budget before their session ends March 12. Smith says that while she’s confident, she won’t completely relax until the House and Senate make their final vote this week.

Notes Smith: “As legislators like to say, ‘You never know the final outcome until the gavel comes down at midnight on the last day of the session!’”

Update: On March 12, Smith shared via email that the bill, “including funding for school library books and electronic resources, has passed both the House and Senate. Our funding…is secure.”

Barack, Laren. "Updated: Utah Legislature to Vote on $1,050,000K Increase for School Libraries." School Library Journal: n. pag. Web. 19 Apr. 2015. <http://www.slj.com/2015/03/budgets-funding/utah-to-vote-on-500k-increase-for-school-libraries/ >.

Please say "Thanks!"

Please thank these legislators for increasing the line item for School Library Books and Electronic Resources. Include a short statement telling why you think these resources are important. If you are a teacher librarian, please tell how you have used this money in the past and what you plan for it this year. A special thanks should go to President Wayne Niederhauser (President of the Senate) and our sponsors, Senator Stuart Adams and Representative Francis Gibson. If you already have sent a thank you, then the Steering Committee thanks you!

Public Education Appropriations Subcommitteeiwamoto@le.utah.gov; aosmond@le.utah.gov; dthatcher@le.utah.gov; jsadams@le.utah.gov; surquhart@le.utah.gov; lhillyard@le.utah.gov; hstephenson@le.utah.gov ;mariepoulson@le.utah.gov; dlifferth@le.utah.gov ; justinfawson@le.utah.gov ; beckyedwards@le.utah.gov; jbriscoe@le.utah.gov; mikekennedy@le.utah.gov ; lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov ; brucecutler@le.utah.gov; seliason@le.utah.gov; normthurston@le.utah.gov ; kraigpowell@le.utah.gov; fgibson@le.utah.gov ; blast@le.utah.gov

Executive Appropriations Committee
lhillyard@le.utah.gov; dsanpei@le.utah.gov; jwstevenson@le.utah.gov; bdee@le.utah.gov;
wniederhauser@le.utah.gov; rokerlund@le.utah.gov; jsadams@le.utah.gov; pknudson@le.utah.gov; gdavis@le.utah.gov; kmayne@le.utah.gov; lescamilla@le.utah.gov; jdabakis@le.utah.gov; greghughes@le.utah.gov; jdunnigan@le.utah.gov; fgibson@le.utah.gov; bradwilson@le.utah.gov; bradking@le.utah.gov; rchouck@le.utah.gov; jbriscoe@le.utah.gov; parent@le.utah.gov

2014 Legislative Session

Please say "Thanks!"

Although our proposal to add $500,000 to the "School Library Books and Electronic Resources" line item balance of $550,000 was not funded in the 2014 Legislative Session, there are a number of legislators who gave strong support to our cause. Please thank them for their support and efforts. Senators and representatives have commented that school library people are among the very few who say "Thanks." Expressing gratitude is easy. Just copy and paste the email addresses given below in a block, into your email addressee line. We suggest you use the BCC, or "blind" copy line, because it seems more personal when only one name will appear on each email.
Those loyal legislators are:
Representative Tim Cosgrove, our #1 hero, along with, especially, Representative Steve Handy and Senator Patricia Jones, and Representatives Joel Briscoe, Kraig Powell, Jim Nielson, Carol Spackman Moss, Francis Gibson, Michael Kennedy, LaVar Christensen, David Lifferth, and Senators Steve Urquhart, Aaron Osmond, Daniel Thatcher, Mark Madsen, Stuart Adams, and Lyle Hillyard.
Please thank them for their support.
tcosgrove@le.utah.gov; jsadams@le.utah.gov; jbriscoe@le.utah.gov; lavarchristensen@le.utah.gov; fgibson@le.utah.gov; stevehandy@le.utah.gov;lhillyard@le.utah.gov; pjones@le.utah.gov; mikekennedy@le.utah.gov; dliffe­­rth@le.utah.gov; mmadsen@le.utah.gov; csmoss@le.utah.gov; jimnielson@le.utah.gov; aosmond@le.utah.gov; kraigpowell@le.utah.gov; dthatcher@le.utah.gov; surquhart@le.utah.gov