Friday, May 1, 2009
How I Spent My Spring Break
I apologize for being away for a while but I was determined to post my impressions of Library LegiDay in Sacramento on April 15 before the CSLA board meeting tomorrow.
The picture is of CSLA's president, Connie Williams, and me standing on the steps of the Capitol after our "press availability" that morning. Senators Lois Wolk and Ellen Corbett had announced the proclamation of National Library Week and there was a crowd of public and school librarians chomping at the bit to get inside the Capitol to speak with various state representatives. I was scheduled to see my assemblywoman, Nancy Skinner, at 11:30 so I had a bit of time to kill before the meeting. That was also the day that the anti-tax "tea parties" were meeting in various locations around the country including our own capital. There was a lot going on in the capital that day.
I spent some time in a Senate Education Committee meeting were the senators were hearing about bills and voting on whether to sent them on. Two I remember had to do with eliminating the requirement that second graders be required to take the STAR test and opening interdistrict student transfer opportunities. Both were popular with the senators present.
At 11:15 I went to Assemblymember Skinner's office and introduced myself. As the substitute for Ellie Goldstein-Erikson, who is the official liaison, I was to present Ms. Skinner with the packet which had been prepared by the LegiDay organizers explaining our issues and asking for her support. Ellie couldn't be there that day because of other commitments and Barbara Jeffus asked me to take her place. About 8-10 public librarians from District 14, which includes much of the East Bay, then showed up and were lead into a small office by one of her aides since she wasn't available at that time.
Her aide was very personable and I think the theme of "Educate to Legislate" was very evident in the remarks all the librarians made in the meeting with him. Because Skinner is a brand new member of the legislature it was very important that she be brought up to speed on the issues facing all library programs in the state. After several public librarians had pointed out how important their libraries are in these uncertain economic times and how they relied on state funding for many of their literacy outreach programs I mentioned that if we had more and better school libraries our populace would be more literate, better at using information sources and more economically productive. The aide seemed to understand what we were saying and promised to pass our concerns on to the assembly member.
I was also able to visit Assembly member Tom Ammiano's office. Tom was a neighbor of mine in San Francisco and I've known him for many years. Several of us met with his aide and thanked him for being supportive of libraries in San Francisco, both public and school. We asked him to arrange visits to school libraries so he could see for himself what the people of San Francisco are getting for their very crucial tax dollars. CSLA Government Relations co-chairs, Barbara Duffy and Pam Oehlman, were also at that meeting.
Overall the day was inspiring and very different from the "Day in the District" meeting I've attended. Although I didn't get to see the legislators, their aides seemed very willing to listen, take notes, and I'm sure passed on to their bosses, what they heard that day.
Just so you don't think I spent my entire Spring Break in the capital here's a picture I took at a wonderful B & B I stayed at Wednesday and Thursday nights in Columbia. The shot is of a cat which could be a twin of my own "tuxedo" cat. And note that it is a Manx which mine is too.