Archive for December, 2010

Susan Hildreth confirmed as IMLS Director

The Senate confirmed by unanimous consent the nomination of Susan Hildreth as the Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  For more details, please see the announcement from the Public Library Association (PLA).

Please feel free to contact Senators Mikulski and Cardin to thank them for their support.  You can use Capwiz to do so.

Pension Costs by County

The Department of Legislative Services developed a presentation on costs for the Benefit Sustainability Commission.  On page 51, the presentation indicates the different pension shifts proposed and the breakdown by county for libraries, community colleges and schools.

The Washington Post recently ran an article discussing the difficult budget decisions that Governor O’Malley would be facing, including the possibility of shifting the pension costs to the counties.  (You may need to set up a free login to access the article.)

FCC issues new order on Net Neutrality, still concerns for libraries

On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed a new order on net neutrality.  The press release and Report and Order are available online.

There are a number of concerns, most notably that libraries will be considered consumers and may not be able to ensure that web content can be equally accessed and also that none of the rules apply to wireless access.  For more information, see the District Dispatch posting and an article from The Daily Beast.

BTOP report released

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) released a report that has some interesting data and maps showing geographic distribution of Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grants and total number of applications.

E-rate Program at ALA Mid-Winter

If you will be attending the American Library Association (ALA) Mid-Winter Conference, you might be interested in an e-rate program being offered by the ALA Office of Information Technology Policy.  The program will discuss the changes to e-rate, followed by an opportunity to have a 10-minute, one-on-one appointment with John Noran, head of Customer Services for the Universal Service Access Fund.  For details, see the District Dispatch posting.  (It appears below the information on an e-books program.)

Shifting pension costs to local government recommended by Benefits commission

The Public Employees’ and Retirees’ Benefit Sustainability Commission is a bi-partisan group established by Governor O’Malley.  Their charge is to study and make recommendations on how manage the rising costs of health and retirement benefits for state workers, including teachers and librarians in Maryland.

On Monday, the commission voted on several recommendations.  The recommendation with the biggest impact for libraries is to push 50% of the pension costs back to the local boards of education and libraries, to be phased in over 3 years.  It appears that a recommendation to have the state help fund social security costs will be used to offset the local government’s increase in pension costs, but the details are unclear.  Another recommendation is to study the feasibility of adopting a Hybrid Cash Balance pension plan, which would combine a 401 (k) plan with the existing traditional pension plan.

See today’s Maryland Reporter article for further explanation of all of the recommendations.

Museum & Library Services Act passes in House, moves on to President

On Tuesday, the House passed the Museum & Library Services Act (MLSA), S 3984, by a voice vote.  It is now on its way to the President, who is expected to sign it into law.  This means that the Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS) will be able to continue its work and the Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA) will remain funded at the current authorization levels.  For more details, see the District Dispatch posting.

Thank you to everyone who contacted legislators asking for their support.  Please feel free to contact legislators to say thank you either by phone or using Capwiz.

ALA submits concerns on proposed net neutrality order to FCC

The American Library Association (ALA), along with the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and EDUCAUSE, has sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sharing concerns that the proposed net neutrality order does not provide adequate protections for library and higher education services for the public.  For a list of specific concerns, please see the District Dispatch posting.

House passes continuing resolution on funding through the end of FY 2011

The House has passed a continuing resolution for Appropriations to maintain FY 2010 spending through the end of FY 2011.  The overall funding would remain the same, although there would be shifts in funding between programs.  The current continuing resolution runs until December 18th.  At this time, it is unclear whether the Senate will take up the measure.

Action Alert Update! Museum & Library Services Act, S 3984

The House is scheduled to vote on S 3984 tomorrow, Tuesday, December 14th.  This bill will authorize the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).  It appears that the bill will be taken up under suspension of the rules, which means that it will need a two-thirds vote to pass.

Thank you to everyone who has already contacted their Representative.  If you have not yet done so, see the earlier blog posting for more details and information on contacting your Representative by phone or e-mail.

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