State Librarian Jen Nelson shares an update on the laws passed in the recently adjourned 2014 legislative session that impact libraries.
Omnibus Capital Investment – Library Construction Grants
A $2 million appropriation will support library construction grants under Minnesota Statutes, section 134.45. The law also clarifies that renovation projects may include remediation of conditions hazardous to health or safety. Of the total appropriation, specific funds were allocated for grants to three cities for library projects: $570,000 to the city of Jackson, $257,000 to the city of Perham and $50,000 to the city of Bagley. State Library Services is in the midst of streamlining and revising the Library Construction Grant application process, and anticipates announcing the timeline for a competitive grant ground in June.
Education Policy – Regional Library Telecommunications Aid
Article 7 Section 1 amends Minnesota Statutes, section 134.355 Subdivision 8 to allow for exceptions to the minimum open hours requirement for regional library telecommunications aid. Applicants may now request exceptions to the open 20 hour per week requirement for short-term closings for emergency maintenance and repairs following a natural disaster, in response to exceptional economic circumstances, building repairs or maintenance that requires public services areas to be closed or to adjust hours of public service to respond to documented seasonal use patterns. We anticipate that this change will streamline the application and reporting process and ensure that libraries have reliable access to necessary funds even when the unexpected happens. State Library Services will be adapting 2014 Regional Library Telecommunication Aid reporting documents to reflect the change, and work with aid recipients to ensure that the new provisions are well understood.
Education Policy – Libraries and Service Delivery
Article 7 Section 2 directs the commissioner of the Department of Education to consult with representatives from a number of library and governmental organizations on ‘options for changing current library procedures and library governance systems to increase collaboration between library systems, ensuring equitable and cost-effective access to library services statewide.’ In addition to access to physical services, the commissioner must consider how to increase access to emerging electronic services. This provision is effective immediately and a report to the education policy and finance committees is due by February 1, 2015.
State Library Services will be reaching out over the next few weeks to identify people interested in serving on the task force. If you would like more information about the task force, or are interested in participating, please contact Jennifer Nelson, State Librarian, or Kevin McHenry, Assistant Commissioner.