This time of year the Legislature is in session and much of my energy and attention is spent on the Capitol in Saint Paul. There is a tension and excitement to the process. With the economy on the downturn, and the economic forecast predictions that state revenues will decline, legislators are displaying fiscal conservatism — especially in the House, where all the members are up for re-election in 2008. My task is to remind them that funding libraries is especially important during rough economic times, when library use has historically increased. Availability of the free services libraries provide is especially important when families and businesses cannot afford to pay for information and recreation access.
February 27th was Library Legislative Day. The Capitol was full of library workers, board members, and Friends, who were engaged in talking to their legislators. I enjoy Legislative Day, and always end up dead tired after walking the tunnels between the State Office Building, the Capitol, and the Judicial Center. Our first appointment this year was at 8:15 a.m., and the last was at 3:30 p.m.
This year is a bonding year, and our biggest issue is to encourage legislators to include money in the bonding bill to fund the Library Construction and Accessibility Program. Six communities in the East Central Region are in various phases of planning for new or expanded libraries. Funding for the bonding bill is critical to library growth.
While Legislative Day is important, we need to keep talking to our legislators through visits, phone calls, and mail (both e-mail and via the postal service.) A super tool to find your state or federal representatives is at: http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/legdir.asp Click on “Who Represents Me?” And then start calling or writing — tell them how important the library is in your community! Thanks for helping us.