On Tuesday May 13, 2008, the Maine delegation (left to right, Sylvia Norton, Linda Lord, Senator Collins, Gary Nichols, Joyce Rumery, Rich Boulet) to ALA Legislative Day met with first with Senator Collins and key staffers and then with Senator Snowe and her staff who work on library, education and telecommunications issues. Concerns discussed included: simplification of the federal e-rate application process; the need for more funding for LSTA (Maine’s LSTA funding took a $60,000 cut this year in addition to the $200,000 cut required from the State of Maine because of the state budget situation); the necessity to include libraries in any federal laws, rules and/or regulations regarding broadband connectivity; support of Network neutrality; the importance of including the Skills Act (requiring school districts to ensure that every school within the district employs at least one state-certified library media specialist in each school library) as part of the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind; and the impact of Orphan Works legislation on libraries. Orphan Works copyright holders can not be identified or found. It is essential that libraries be able to make these works, many of whom are historically or culturally significant, available to the public.
On a more personal note, Senator Snowe, who was in the Maine State legislature in Gary’s early years as State Library, commiserated with him about how fast the years pass; Senator Collins was very aware of a small business near Blue Hill that uses the Blue Hill Public Library as an office because of its two t-1 connections; both Senators are huge library supporters and gave us undue credit for training them well. Many of you know that Senator Collins worked in the Caribou Public Library as a student. Both Senators been recognized by the National Friends of Libraries Association as key Congressional library supporters. Their offices are fun to visit as the walls are covered with Maine prints, posters and art work and are beautifully decorated with strong colors. One staff member had a decidedly non-Maine accent but claimed to be from southern Maine, commonly known as Georgia. Our meetings were warm, friendly but focused on urgent issues in the library world – issues that were listened to attentively. Today we look forward with great anticipation to meetings with Congressmen Allen and Michaud. More later, Linda