Bremer Trust Supports Libraries

Working diligently towards its goal to build healthy and vibrant communities, the Otto Bremer Trust recently awarded grants to Lake Agassiz Regional Library (LARL) and Northwest Regional Library (NWRL).

  • The Moorhead Public Library, LARL headquarters, received a grant from the Otto Bremer Trust to update the Library’s community meeting rooms. The grant for $20,000 with an additional $10,000 in matching funds was used for new carpet, paint, furniture and equipment for the heavily used meeting rooms.
  • NWRL received a grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation in the amount of $17,670. to remodel the restrooms at the Godel Memorial Library in Warren. The project will convert existing facilities and make them more accessible.

Library Lobbyist Survey

A Request from MLA, ITEM, CRPLSA and the Multitypes, please take the Lobbyist Evaluation Survey

The Minnesota Library Association (MLA) holds a letter of agreement for governmental affairs consultant services with Capitol Hill Associates, Inc. on behalf of MLA, ITEM, CRPLSA, and the Multitype Library Systems. The lobbyists, Elaine Keefe and Sam Walseth, are well-known advocates for Minnesota libraries. The letter of agreement between the funding organizations prescribes an annual evaluation to be done by the Steering Committee representatives.

Judging performance of a lobbyist doesn’t necessarily depend on whether the legislature acted favorably on the Minnesota libraries’ platform. There are a number of forces influencing the direction of major legislation over which libraries have little control. Progress often takes place over a long period of time. The evaluation of the lobbyists is to evaluate critically important legislation-related activities and required attributes.

Please rate your perception of how Capitol Hill Associates succeeded in delivering the following services that are listed in the Letter of Agreement. Your responses will go to the Steering Committee, who will complete the evaluation.

If you have questions about the survey, please contact Barbara Misselt, Legislative Chair and ECRL Director.

This survey will close at the end of July 1, 2016.

Take the Survey!

New GRRL Website

GRRL web logoJust in time for summer, Great River Regional Library (GRRL) launched a new website on June 21.  It immediately offers offers a spash of color with “river” of bookcovers and bold clickable images for library information topics.

GRRLs’ primary goals of the redesign project is to make the website more responsive to provide a more optimized user experience across many different devices and screen sizes. This is a great improvement over the previous website which had been in place since 2008.  A team of GRRL staff are incorporated the improvements on their Drupal platform.

Check it out!

Hutton to retire

Ann Hutton, SELCO Executive Director since 1996, has announced her plans to retire May 1, 2017.  In her letter to the SELCO Board of Directors she stated:

Having started my library career as a school librarian in Wisconsin, a state with strong regional libraries, I had a goal of working at a strong region.  Each move — Georgia, Illinois, and Minnesota — were steps in that direction.  I will admit that when I started at SELCO on August 27, 1984, I thought I would be in the region just a few years before moving to the metro.  But, southeast Minnesota captured my heart and fulfilled my professional goals.  It has been an honor to work at SELCO as Regional Librarian, Assistant Director, and Executive Director.

More information about SELCO’s Executive Director Search

Legislative Forum 2016 – Registration Open!

Vote for Libraries buttonCalling all MLA and ITEM members and library advocates and trustees — you are invited to gather at Great River Regional Library in St. Cloud on Tuesday, July 12th from 9:00am until 3:00pm for the annual Library Legislative Forum. This is the work session to begin planning for the 2017 legislative session – an appropriations/budget year.

Elaine Keefe, MLA lobbyist, will review the 2016 Legislative Session and provide a preview of what to expect in the 2017 session. The majority of the day will be spent on group work: identifying legislative priorities for 2017, as well as ongoing opportunities, challenges, and issues for 2017 and beyond.

Come be a part of this opportunity to shape the 2017 legislative agenda!

Registration is free and lunch will be provided by MLA. Goodies will be ready for your arrival – Thank you to Minitex!

Click here for more information and to register.

Legislative Update 2016-06-10

The following information was shared via email with the library community on Monday, May 23, 2016 by Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates, in her role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Tax Bill Veto: On Monday of this week, Governor Dayton pocket-vetoed the omnibus tax bill by taking no action on the bill before the 14 day deadline. His veto was due to concerns about an error in a section of the bill relating to charitable gambling taxes that would have cost the state $101 million in lost revenue over the next three years. The main item of interest to libraries in the tax bill is an increase in aid to cities and counties.

Special Session Outlook: On Tuesday, Governor Dayton met with three of the four legislative caucus leaders (Senator Bakk, Speaker Daudt and Representative Thissen; Senator Hann chose not to attend) to discuss a possible special session to pass a bonding bill, a corrected tax bill and some additional budget items that the governor would like to see enacted. The meeting was brief and nothing was resolved. Reportedly they plan to meet again sometime in the middle of next week.

Since then Governor Dayton has been traveling across the state to drum up public support for his priorities for a special session. High on the governor’s list is a transportation funding package that includes transit in the metro area, which is very controversial with House Republicans.

Bonding Bill: As I have previously reported, House and Senate negotiators agreed on a $1.1 billion bonding bill on the last day of session. The bill passed the House, but time ran out before it could pass the Senate. Later it was discovered that there were a number of projects that appeared on the spreadsheet, but were not actually included in the bill (this was not the case for any library projects).

Governor Dayton and legislative leaders are eager to pass a bonding bill during a special session, but reaching agreement will not be easy. Speaker Daudt has said that the House will revert to its original position of a $600 million bonding bill (even though they never actually brought a bill of that size to the House floor), while Governor Dayton has demanded the inclusion of $183 million for projects that were left out of the bill agreed to by the conference committee.

Bonding Conference Committee Hearing: On Tuesday, June 14 the bonding bill conference committee will meet from 1-4 pm in room 10 of the State Office Building. The purpose of the hearing is to review the conference committee agreement and take public testimony. I expect the discussion to focus on the more controversial projects and those that were included on the spreadsheet but left out of the bill. We will keep you posted.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

Behind the Scenes at the Library…

Floating Collection

East Central Regional Library (ECRL) is moving towards a floating collection throughout its 14 branch consolidated region.  During the pilot period, floating non-print (CDs, DVDs, and books on CD) has demonstrated increased circulation in those areas. Regional staff are considering what format to add next.

Proctoring Policy Change

Based on recommendations from the Great River Regional Library (GRRL) Public Services Team, the resident eligibility requirement was removed from the regional proctoring policy in March 2016. Requests for proctoring have increased at GRRL – up 3 percent from 2015. GRRL charges $10 per session for proctoring.

2016 Legislative Session Ends

The following information was shared via email with the library community on Monday, May 23, 2016 by Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates, in her role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

The 2016 legislative session has ended with very mixed results. Last night the Legislature passed the omnibus tax bill and the omnibus supplemental budget bill. However, as noted in my previous message, the Legislature failed to pass the bonding bill before the midnight deadline for passing bills.

Governor Dayton held a press conference a few minutes ago and indicated he has not yet decided whether to call a special session. He said that he and legislative leaders need time to get some rest and assess the situation.

Bonding Bill: The bonding conference committee reached agreement on a $1.135 billion bill on Sunday evening, just a few hours before the midnight deadline for passing bills. The bill included $2 million for Library Construction Grants and $820,000 for the library at the Minnesota state Career and Technical College in Wadena. It did not include funding for the new East Central Regional Library headquarters/Cambridge Library, the Bagley Library or the Eastside Freedom Library.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 91-39. It was amended in the Senate to raise the limit on how much the Metropolitan Council could contribute to a rail project (clearly aimed at the Southwest Light Rail Transit line) before passing by a vote of 53-12. Because the bill had been amended on the Senate floor, it had to go back to the House for a final vote, but before that happened the House adjourned. It was messy and chaotic and House and Senate leaders are blaming each other for the failure of the bonding bill to make it across the finish line.

Supplemental Budget Bill: The budget bill spends a total of $182 million. It includes $35 million for Border to Border Broadband Grants and $500,000 for grants of up to $50,000 to K-12 schools for broadband Wi-Fi Hotspots. It does not include an increase in total operating capital and does not provide any funding for after school programs.

Omnibus Tax Bill: The tax bill increases aid to cities by $20 million per year and increases aid to counties by $10 million per year.

Legacy Bill: The Legacy bill dealt mainly with appropriations for the Outdoor Heritage Fund, for which appropriations are made annually rather than for the biennium. However, we were keeping an eye on one piece of language designed to reinforce the idea that Legacy funds are meant to supplement, not supplant, previous funding. The original language in the House bill was rather awkward, as a couple of you pointed out to me. The final version included in the bill is much more clear. It states:

“Any state agency or organization requesting a direct appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund must inform the house of representatives and senate committees having jurisdiction over the arts and cultural heritage fund, at the time the request for funding is made, whether the request is supplanting or is a substitution for any previous funding that was not from a legacy fund and was used for the same purpose.”

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

Legislative Update 2016-05-19

The following information was shared via email with the library community by Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates, in her role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

End of Session Negotiations: There is still no agreement between legislative leaders and Governor Dayton on targets for the supplemental budget, taxes and transportation. It remains to be seen whether they will reach an agreement in time to get the bills passed before the end of the session. Session must end by midnight on Monday, but the Legislature cannot pass bills on the day of adjournment. This means that bills must be passed by midnight on Sunday night.

Bonding Bill: Today the House bonding bill failed on the House floor. A 3/5 super-majority is required to pass a bonding bill, which means 81 votes are required to pass the House. The bill only received 69 votes. All but two DFLers voted against the bill, while all but 5 Republicans voted for the bill. DFLers complained that the bill was too small and that projects in DFL districts had been passed over in favor of projects in Republican districts.

However, a conference committee has been appointed for HF 748, a bill from last year that will be used as a vehicle for a bonding bill. This is a highly unusual twist in the legislative process.

The Senate conferees are Senator LeRoy Stumpf (DFL – Plummer), Senator Katie Sieben (DFL – Cottage Grove), Senator Jeff Hayden (DFL – Minneapolis), Senator David Tomassoni (DFL – Chisholm) and Senator Carla Nelson (R – Rochester).

The House conferees are Rep. Paul Torkelson (R – Hanska), Rep. Tony Albright (R – Prior Lake), Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R – Ghent), Rep. Bob Vogel (R- Elko New Market) and Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL – St. Paul).

According to a press release issued by the Senate DFL Caucus this afternoon, the conference committee will consider portions of the House, Senate and Governor’s bonding proposals. No meetings have been scheduled for the conference committee as of this writing.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

Legislative Update 2016-05-16

The following information was shared via email with the library community by Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates, in her role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

End of Session Negotiations: The legislative session is nearing the end. Legislators must adjourn no later than Monday, May 23. Since they cannot pass bills on the final day, time is running short for Governor Dayton and legislative leaders to reach agreement on transportation, taxes, a supplemental budget bill and a bonding bill. They met twice last week and so far all they have agreed upon is that they want to reach an agreement on a transportation package before working on the other three bills. Governor Dayton plans to present a compromise proposal on Monday.

Bonding Bill: The Senate’s bonding bill, which spent a total of $1.8 billion, failed on the Senate floor by 1 vote. Bonding bills require a super majority of 3/5, which means 41 votes are needed to pass the Senate. The bill only received 40 votes. Only 1 Republican, Senator Carla Nelson of Rochester, voted for the bill.

During the debate Republicans offered a bonding bill of their own, which spent $992 million. It cut funding for Library Construction Grants to $1 million and eliminated funding for the new East Central Regional Library headquarters/Cambridge Library and the Bagley Public Library. The proposal only garnered 18 votes.

House Republicans still have not brought forward a bonding bill. They originally said they wanted to spend only $600 million, but Speaker Daudt admitted to reporters that a bill of that size will not get the 81 votes needed to pass the House. This prompted Senate Majority Leader Bakk to observe that the Senate bill is too big to pass and the House bill is too small to pass. If a bonding bill does pass this session, it will need to be somewhere in between.

A bill significantly smaller than the Senate bill with more emphasis on transportation projects is likely to come out of the House, and that could mean no funding for Library Construction Grants. Now is the time for members of the House to hear from you.

PLEASE contact your representatives in the House and urge them to make sure that Library Construction Grants are included in the House bonding bill!

Supplemental Budget (HF 2749): A ten member conference committee is negotiating a 600 page omnibus supplemental budget bill. The conferees met three times last week to have staff walk through a side by side comparison of the provisions in the House and Senate bills. Another meeting is scheduled for 6pm tonight (Sunday). Negotiations on budget items cannot get serious until Governor Dayton and legislative leaders agree on how much spending will be included in the bill. That will depend on how much is spent on transportation, which is being negotiated in a separate conference committee. As a reminder, the items we are following in the supplemental budget conference committee are Border to Border Broadband grants, K-12 broadband grants, total operating capital and after school funding. See my April 29 update for details.

NLLD Photos

From Washington, DC and the halls of government…

Skip Levesque - GRRL & Judith Schotzko - SELCO
Skip Levesque – GRRL & Judith Schotzko – SELCO
House Office visit with Minnesota library advocates: Judith Schotzko, Skip Levesque, Chris and Jim Weikum
House Office visit with Minnesota library advocates: Judith Schotzko, Skip Levesque, Chris and Jim Weikum














NLLD 2016 Franken Office
Legislative Aide to Senator Al Franken, Skip Levesque – GRRL, Judith Schotzko – SELCO, Jim and Chris Weikum – ALS









ALA’s photostream for NLLD 2016

TdSLC Seeks Executive Director

TDS-logo-2013The Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative (TdSLC) is looking for an Executive Director.  This dynamic and challenging position will manage a cooperative that serves libraries in a nine county area around Mankato, Minnesota.  Mankato is a vibrant, fast-growing city, home to Minnesota State University, Mankato and a thriving business community.  The Executive Director reports to a fourteen member Board of Directors.   Members include twenty public libraries (nearly forty branches), school media centers and academic libraries.

Services provided to member libraries include a Sierra (III) online catalog and circulation system, cataloging, delivery, inter-library loan, continuing education, programming and much more through a staff of twelve.   Minimum requirements include a Master’s in
Library Science from a program accredited by ALA and several years of administrative experience.

For further information check out or call 507-386-3022.   Letters of application, resumes and references to:  Competitive salary, depending on experience, and generous benefits.  Applications received by June 10 will receive top priority.

Minnesotans in Washington

nlld banner 2016 croppedA small continent of Minnesotans visited our nation’s Capitol this National Library Legislative Day, May 2-3, 2016. Jim Weikum, ALS Director and former Minnesota Library Association Legislative Chair, led the group. Also attending NLLD were Judith Schotzko, a SELCO Board Member, and Skip Levesque, the President of the Friends of the St. Michael – Albertville – Hanover Library in GRRL. Skip is the recipient of the first Minnesota Association of Library Friends NLLD grant.

These NLLD advocates asked their Members of Congress in the House and Senate to increase funding for library services, approve a new Treaty to provide electronic materials to the blind worldwide, protect the privacy of email and other electronic communications, and to support legislation that will afford the public broad and free access to government information.

Statewide documentation shared with Congressional staff included recent news from the Minnesota Department of Education on Federal funding for libraries.

Legislative Update 2016-05-02

The following information was shared via email with the library community by Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates, in her role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

The Senate bonding bill (SF 2839) was released this morning, and it contains good news for libraries. Here are the specifics:

Library Construction Grants: The bill includes $2 million for the grants. There are no earmarks, so the entire $2 million would be available for competitive grants. $2 million was the amount included in the governor’s budget.

East Central Regional Library Headquarters and Cambridge Public Library: The bill includes $2.414 million for a new building. That was the amount requested by the city of Cambridge. This must be matched with an equal amount of funding from non-state sources.

Bagley Public Library: The bill includes $50,000 in general fund money for a grant to the city of Bagley for “improvements, furnishings and equipment for the city’s library or to reimburse the city for improvements, furnishings and equipment for the city’s library.” The language is a little unusual because the library project was completed two years ago. The 2014 bonding bill included $50,000 for the project, but the state later determined that this was an ineligible use of state bond funds and in 2015 the appropriation was canceled. That is why this year’s appropriation is from the general fund.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Wadena Campus: The bill includes $820,000 to relocate the current library to a new space and to convert the vacated space to a student services center. $820,000 was the amount included in the governor’s budget. This was the only higher education library project proposed this year.

East Side Freedom Library: The bill includes $500,000 from the general fund to renovate the former Arlington Hills Public Library in St. Paul, which recently became the home of the East Side Freedom Library. The library is operated by a nonprofit. Its mission “is to inspire solidarity, advocate for justice and work toward equity for all.”

The Senate bonding bill is even larger than had been rumored, spending a total of $1.8 billion. That is significantly larger than the $1.4 billion proposed by Governor Dayton and triple the amount that House leaders have said they want to spend. Even so, many requests were not funded at all or were funded well below the amount requested. Senator Leroy Stumpf, chair of the Senate Capital Investment Committee, said they received $5.2 billion in requests. The bill will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow and then will head to the Senate floor.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

Legislative Update 2016-04-29

The following information was shared via email with the library community by Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates, in her role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

The legislative session must end no later than 3 weeks from Monday.  Here is an update on issues of interest:

Supplemental Budget:   The House and Senate passed their omnibus supplemental budget bills this week.  The Senate has combined all of its budget bills into one omnibus supplemental budget bill (SF 2356).

The House split the budget into three smaller omnibus budget bills, as follows:

Education and Higher Education  (HF 2749)
Agriculture, Environment and Jobs (HF 3931)
HHS, Public Safety and State Government (HF 3467)

How the bills will be conferenced has not been announced, but it is widely assumed that there will be one conference committee made up of ten members.  The conferees are expected to be appointed early next week.

Broadband:  Last month Governor Dayton proposed $100 million in Border-to-Border Broadband Grants.  The Senate included $85 million in its budget bill, while the House included $15 million for FY 17 and $25 million in FY 18.  The House also included $7 million for broadband grants for schools in its education finance bill.  Those who attended Library Legislative Day heard me describe this new grant program in detail.  For those who were not there, the proposal actually would fund two separate types of grants, as follows:

Broadband Wi-Fi Hotspots:  A school district may apply for a grant to support wireless off-campus learning through a student’s use of a data card, USB modem or other mobile broadband device that enables the student to access learning materials through a mobile broadband connection.  A school district that qualifies for sparsity revenue may apply for a grant to provide Internet access on school buses.  The maximum grant is $100,000 for a school district applying by itself or $200,000 if applying with a community partner such as a public library, community education department or adult basic education program provider.

Capacity Building:  A school district that is a member of a telecommunications cluster may apply for a grant of up to $100,000 to be used in any manner and with any community partners that will allow the district to expand telecommunications access for students, teachers and community members.

Of the $7 million appropriated, $5 million is for the broadband Wi-Fi hotspot grants and $2 million is for the capacity building grants.  This is a one-time appropriation.

Total Operating Capital:  The Senate has included in its budget $10.1 million to provide a one-time increase of $10.88 per pupil in total operating capital.  There is a list of 25 permitted uses of this funding in statute.  Among the permitted uses are:

“To improve and repair school sites and buildings, and equip or reequip school buildings with permanent attached fixtures, including library media centers”
“ To purchase or lease interactive telecommunications equipment”
“To purchase or lease computers and related hardware, software, and annual licensing fees, copying machine, telecommunications equipment, and other non-instructional equipment”
“To purchase new and replacement library media resources or technology”
“To purchase or lease telecommunications equipment, computers and related equipment for integrated information management systems”
“To pay personnel costs directly associated to the acquisition, operation and maintenance of telecommunications systems, computers, related equipment, and network and applications software”

After School Grants:  The Senate has included in its budget bill $500,000 in one-time funding for grants to after school programs.  This is the program that we have worked with Ignite Afterschool to support.

Bonding:  As you may recall, Governor Dayton proposed a $1.4 billion bonding bill, which would be the largest in state history.  It includes $2 million for Library Construction Grants.  House leaders have said they will spend no more than $600 million on a bonding bill, but have not released any specifics and are not expected to do so anytime soon.  Rep. Paul Torkelson, chair of the House Capital Investment Committee, has said that the bonding bill’s fate will depend on reaching agreement on other issues such as taxes and transportation.  House leaders have characterized the bonding bill as “dessert,” which must come last.  The Senate is scheduled to release its bonding bill on Monday.  It is rumored that it will be a little larger than the governor’s proposal.

Legacy:  The House has passed its omnibus legacy funding bill, HF 3829, out of committee.  Unlike the other three funds the Outdoor Heritage Fund appropriations are made annually, and the bulk of the bill is made up of those appropriations.  However, there is one provision of interest to libraries in the bill.  It reinforces the requirement that legacy funds are to be used to supplement rather than supplant existing funding by requiring any entity requesting funding from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund to inform the Legislature “if the entity funded the same project or program after 2006 and how the previous project or program was funded.”  This is based on a recommendation from the Legislative Auditor.

Because sales tax revenue has lagged behind projections, there are deficits in three of the four legacy funds, including the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.  To resolve the deficit, Minnesota Management and Budget plans to enact a shift by authorizing agencies to “allot only 97% of their FY 17 appropriations, holding back 3% of each appropriation for spending in the following fiscal year, FY 18.”

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

Success = Library Legislative Day

Despite the construction making navigation around the Capitol complex a bit tricky, the beautiful spring weather and productive office visits made the 2016 Minnesota Library Legislative a success.  Every year library supporters from across the state go to Library Day at the Capitol, sponsored by the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) and Information and Technology Educators of Minnesota (ITEM). Library concerns this year are a $10 million bonding request for library construction funds and initiatives to support border-to-border broadband access.

East Central Regional Library Legislative Day album

On the eve of Legislative Day

Vote for Libraries buttonLibrarians, trustees and Library Friends will gather in St. Paul on April 13 to advocate for the MLA / ITEM Legislative Platform.  The top priority for this “short” legislative session will be inclusion of a $10 million appropriation in the Capital Investment bill for the construction of public library buildings.  Based on projected building projects around the state, public libraries have the potential of $172,883,00 in brick and mortar capital expenses in the next few years.

As you head to the Capital to remind your legislators of the importance of libraries and the structures that hold those services, remember to share news of your visits on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag:  #mnlibleg16

If you cannot make the trek to St. Paul — Call your legislators’ offices and offer your support, and remember to share news with #mnlibleg16.

Mark Your Calendar: MLA at 125

MLA 125 logoCome to the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center September 29 – 30, 2016 to enjoy, learn, and celebrate the 125 year history of the Minnesota Library Association. The MLA Conference will feature fabulous keynote speakers and top-notch presentations from other librarians across the state. Network with colleagues and move forward into the future of libraries.

Whether new to MLA or just a first time conference attendee, there will be many opportunities to meet colleagues, grow professionally and learn from the history and expertise of MLA. A newcomers’ orientation session will introduce the conference structure and help participants get the most out of conference experiences.

Visit the conference Facebook page or the MLA website to keep up on the latest conference news.  Online Registration will begin July 21.

More regional broadband support

By adding their names to the Minnesota Broadband Vision, regional library boards are showing their support for a future in which residents of all generations and backgrounds will have access to affordable, high-quality broadband. Included on the growing list:

MN Broadband Vision 2016Great River Regional Library (GRRL) – March 15

Kitchigami Regional Library (KRLS) – March 17

Lake Agassiz Regional Library (LARL) – March 17

Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA) – March 17

Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative (TdSLC) – March 17

Viking Library System (VLS) – March 15

With its many community interests, The Blandin Foundation initiated the Minnesota Broadband Vision campaign.  This includes sharing news and information on broadband use, policy and trends.  There is even an “I Endorse the Minnesota Broadband Vision” Facebook page to “like” as well as post local support.

Legislative Update

The following information was shared via email with the library community by Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates, in her role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Governor’s Budget:  Governor Dayton released his supplemental budget proposal today.  He is proposing to spend a total of $698 million (including $117 million for tax cuts).  Of that spending, $411 million is one-time spending and $287 million is ongoing spending.  The governor proposes to leave $200 million on the bottom line to guard against a future economic downturn.  This is consistent with his statement last week in his State of the State address that his highest priority was protecting the fiscal stability of the state.  Here are items of interest in the proposed budget:

$100 million for Border to Border Broadband grants.  Earlier in the year Governor Dayton had announced that he would propose $100 million for broadband, but after the February forecast projected a smaller surplus, there was speculation that this amount might go down.  Happily, this was not the case.  This is a one-time appropriation.

$21.5 million for a one-time increase in Local Government Aid to cities.

$25 million for a one-time increase in County Program Aid.

$25 million for a pre-kindergarten program offered through public schools.  The funding would be targeted to high-poverty areas and those with a lack of three and four star Parent Aware rated child care programs.  This funding would increase to $40 million in FY 18 and $60 million in FY 19.

A detailed description of each item in Governor Dayton’s proposal can be found here.

Bills of Interest:  Since the Legislature convened one week ago, legislators have introduced 546 bills in the Senate and 747 bills in the House.  Here are some bills of interest to MLA and ITEM:

HF 2381 (Baker) Provides $35 million for border to border broadband grants.  The bill will be heard in the House Greater Minnesota Economic and Workforce Development Policy Committee this Thursday.

HF 2385 (Lesch)/ SF 2703 (Dibble)  Prohibits employers from requiring applicants or employees to divulge their username or password to any personal social media account.

HF 2386 (Lesch)/ SF 2705 (Chamberlain)  Prohibits educational institutions from requiring students or prospective students to divulge their username or password to any personal social media account.

HF 2537 (Youakim)/ SF 2510 (Kent)  Establishes the right of student journalists to determine the content of school newspapers and student-led publications, unless the content is profane, harassing or intimidating.

HF 2597 (Green)  Repeals the requirement that 47% of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund must be allocated to the State Arts Board.

HF 2645 (B. Johnson)/ SF 2296 (Nienow) Provides $2,414,000 to the city of Cambridge to build a new public library and headquarters for the East Central Regional Library.

HF 2898 (Lucero)  Protecting student data privacy on 1:1 devices issued by an educational institution.

HF 2900 (Lucero)  Protecting student privacy on personal electronic devices.

HF 2939 (C. Johnson)/ SF 2560 (Sheran) Provides funding for the Travers des Sioux Library Cooperative to hire licensed school media specialists to provide services to schools that do not have licensed school media specialists.  This was initiated by a former employee of TDS, and is not supported by the TDS Board.  I do not expect this bill to advance.

HF 3069 (Peterson) / SF 2462 (Carlson)  Exempts information systems software from the requirement that schools use a competitive bidding process for purchases.

SF 2294 (Dahms) Provides $30 million in bond proceeds for border to border broadband grants.

SF 2447 (Schmit)  Provides $100 million from the general fund for border to border broadband grants.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

ECRL Personal Broadband Story

Only in its third day, the East Central Regional Library (ECRL) broadband support campaign has solicited some persuasive stories.  Consider this comment from a Princeton resident:

MN Broadband Vision 2016I moved from one residence within ECRL region to another in the region within the last 3 years. I was able to get DSL at the former residence. I now live even closer to a major highway but internet service is not available at my “new” location except by paying for a hotspot through Verizon that is VERY expensive and the cost is based on usage so I have to very carefully choose what I can do online, limit my downloads, etc., so as not to go over my usage limit. When I moved, I was told Centurylink/Qwest has the “rights” to where I now live so I checked first with them about getting internet service since they are my landline telephone provider. I was told that, yes, they “own the rights” to my address but have no idea when or if they will provide internet service there. I am in a residential area, 3 miles from town and next to a major state road so I most certainly ought to be able to have inexpensive and unlimited internet access.

For more information on the ECRL broadband support efforts

ECRL Push for Broadband Support

MN Broadband Vision 2016East Central Regional Library (ECRL) is in the midst of a marketing campaign to generate support for the Minnesota Broadband Vision and solicit personal stories.  This follows the February 2016 ECRL board meeting, when the board endorsed a resolution supporting the Minnesota Broadband Vision stating that “everyone in Minnesota will be able to use convenient, affordable, world-class broadband networks that enable us to survive and thrive in our communities and across the globe.”

Components shared with each of the 14 ECRL locations include:

  1. Press release announcing the efforts
  2. Poster (11 x 17) of the broadband resolution signed by ECRL board president, Mike Warring
  3. A broadband table tent
  4. An online survey, as well as on location half-sheets to collect personal broadband or Internet stories
  5. Broadband petition to be shared with with area legislators

The ECRL broadband publicity efforts will continue through March 26.

Legislative Prep 2016

The following information was shared via email with the library community by Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates, in her role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Happy precinct caucus day!

The Legislative session begins one week from today.  Here are some key things to know:

State Economic Forecast:  The February forecast was released last Friday.  The projected state budget surplus is now $900 million, down from the $1.2 billion that was projected in early December.  This will make it much tougher for anyone hoping for new spending or tax cuts.

Governor’s Budget:  Governor Dayton is set to release his supplemental budget recommendations on March 15.  He has said that, given the downturn in the surplus, he is likely to propose a limited amount of one-time spending.  Previously he had said he would propose $100 million in broadband grants to underserved communities.  This is the sort of spending that could be done on a one-time basis.  The Governor’s top priority remains universal pre-school for all 4 year olds, but legislators remain skeptical, especially in the House.

Library Construction Grants:  This Thursday, March 3, the House Capital Investment Committee will hold a day-long hearing where state agencies will present their bonding requests that made it into the Governor’s Capital Budget.  MDE has been allotted a 20 minute time period from 11:40am to noon to present Library Construction Grants and a proposal for improvements to the Red Lake School.  The hearing will be in Room 200 State Office Building.

Committee Deadlines:  Deadlines this session are quite early, ensuring that the session moves at a fast pace.  Here are the dates:

First deadline:  Friday, April 1.  By this date a bill must have passed through all of the policy committees it needs to be heard in and have either been sent to a finance committee or to the floor in order to remain alive.

Second Deadline:  Friday, April 8.  By this date a bill must have met the criteria for meeting the first deadline in BOTH the House and Senate to remain alive.

Third Deadline:  Thursday, April 21.  By this date the omnibus spending bills must be passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

Legislative Calendar:  Traditionally the Legislature takes a week-long break for Passover and Easter.  This year because of the shortness of the session and because Passover and Easter are a month apart, legislators will instead take two short breaks.  The Legislature will be on a break for Easter beginning on Friday, March 25 and returning at noon on Tuesday, March 29.  The Legislature will take Friday, April 22 off because Passover begins that day at sundown.  The legislative session must adjourn no later than Monday, May 23 at midnight.

Legislative Retirements:  Amid the growing number of legislators who have announced that they will not seek re-election this year, the most notable for the library community is Senator LeRoy Stumpf (DFL – Plummer).  Senator Stumpf has been a long-time champion for libraries and we will miss him.  For a complete list of retiring legislators, follow this link:

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

Leap Day Launch Ebooks MN

ebooks MN logoEbooks Minnesota launches today!

Ebooks MN is a collection featuring content from Minnesota’s independent publishers. Today’s opening-day collection includes about 2,500 titles, and Minitex plans to add more soon.

Ebooks from ABDO, Lerner Publishing Group, and Cherry Lake Publishing make up a significant part of the school-age collection. Ebooks MN also includes scholarly and literary titles from the University of Minnesota Press, Milkweed Editions, Coffee House Press, and Arcadia Publishing/The History Press. These independent presses publish ebooks on a wide variety of topics and genres from sharks to the black death and from graphic novels to literary fiction. Ebooks MN also includes titles about Minnesota, such as Twins Baseball and Legendary Locals of Crookston, that were published outside the state. There is no limit to the number of titles that can be checked out at any time and readers can keep titles as long as they wish.

Minitex will manage access to Ebooks MN using the familiar IP-range method used for the Electronic Library for Minnesota. No digital rights management (DRM) is required. Minnesota will have permanent access to these titles, there is no limit to the number that can be checked out at a time, and readers can keep them as long as they wish.  As with ELM, there is no additional cost for libraries to use the collection. Be sure to watch and share our introductory video, and download the app from iTunes, Google Play, or for your Kindle Fire.

Ebooks MN is a two-year pilot project of the Minnesota Department of Education, State Library Services and Minitex. The collection is made possible in part by funding from the Minnesota Department of Education through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and by Minitex. The initiative originated from the 2014 Explore eBooks MN Summit and from the contributions of librarians across the state.  

SELCO Supports Broadband Vision

MN Broadband Vision 2016The Southeastern Libraries Cooperating (SELCO) Board of Directors joins the ALS, ECRL, NWRL, and PLS regional library boards in support of the Minnesota Broadband Vision.  The SELCO resolution stresses the broad array of vital library services which depend on broadband or high speed Internet.  The resolution urges Governor Dayton and the members of the Minnesota Legislature to provide leadership, resources and the necessary legal framework to make this vision a reality.

Libraries around the state are encouraged to seek support from local governing authorities, community groups, and individuals who believe that Internet access is an equity issue for all Minnesotans.

ECRL Fundraising RFP


The Friends of the Cambridge Public Library is seeking a fundraising consultant to plan and manage a campaign to raise a minimum of $1 million to help fund the cost of building a new public library in Cambridge MN. Responses to the RFP must be received by noon on February 19, 2016 and should be directed to Friends of the Cambridge Public Library. A full copy of the RFP is available on the library website.  Questions can be addressed to Karen S. Lee, 763-552-9605,

Celebrating 20 years of telecom

The American Library Association and
Libraries Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Telecom Act

When the 1996 Telecommunications Act was signed into law, only 28% of libraries provided public internet access.  Libraries have experienced a dizzying two decades of innovations enabled by the Act and the E-rate program it created.

ALA 20 year telecom anniversaryLibraries were named one of seven major application areas for the National Information Infrastructure in a 1994 task force report:

For education and for libraries, all teachers and students in K-12 schools and all public libraries—whether in urban suburban, or rural areas; whether in rich or in poor neighborhoods—need access to the educational and library services carried on the NII. All commercial establishments and all workers must have equal access to the opportunities for electronic commerce and telecommuting provided by the NII. Finally, all citizens must have equal access to government services provided over the NII.

In his 1997 State of the Union address, President Clinton called for all schools and libraries to be wired by 2000. The nation came close: 96% of libraries were connected by that time.

Then, as now, libraries report that their bandwidth and number of public computers available were unable to meet patron demand at least some of the time. Libraries, like the nation as a whole, also continue to see disparities among urban, suburban and rural library connectivity.

According to a 2013 Pew Internet Project report, the availability of computers and internet access now rivals book lending and reference expertise as vital library services. Seventy-seven percent of Americans say free access to computers and the internet is a “very important” service of libraries, compared with 80 percent who say borrowing books and access to reference librarians are “very important” services.

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Telecom Act (hashtag #96×20) and share how #librariestransform with high-speed broadband all this week.