Executive Director's Desk - April 14, 2016

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A victory for free speech and Michigan libraries appears likely

By now, I’m sure you are all aware of the potentially disastrous impact Public Act 269/SB 571 could have on our libraries’ ability to properly educate and inform the voters about upcoming millage elections. The bill in effect would ban the dissemination of factual information 60 days prior to a millage election. After countless hours of engagement on this issue we are anticipating a victory. Our coalition attorneys are currently in negotiations with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General to settle the case.

Yes, you read that correctly. The state wants to settle the case. Immediately after passage of the bill, MLA joined a coalition of associations and groups opposed to the bill and filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the act. A federal judge issued a temporary injunction declaring the section in question was an infringement of constitutional rights. We expect that injunction to be made permanent soon.

Thousands of library supporters from Michigan and across the country came out in support of free speech and the library’s right to provide access to information. After a robust campaign for a veto of the bill, the governor signed it into law. MLA continued to work with legislators to amend the bill and MLA Board of Directors approved participation in the lawsuit as well as an amicus brief to defend our first amendment rights.

National Library Week 2016 is the perfect time to reflect on the progress the library community has made in advocating for good public policy. This year’s theme Libraries Transform is true not only for the individual libraries and the changes they initiate to move their programs and services into the future, but it also underscores the impact library professionals and supporters have on the officials we elect to guide our democracy.

Thanks to all of you for taking action to let our elected officials know they can count on librarians to ensure the flow of information and education to our communities is accurate and timely.

This important victory highlights the significance of MLA advocacy and the grassroots efforts of our members. As soon as the injunction is made permanent, we’ll share the information. A synopsis of our advocacy efforts is available here: http://www.milibraries.org/gov-snyder-signs-sb-571-into-law/

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