2017 - a Landmark Year for Michigan Libraries
2017 was a milestone year for MLA and libraries in Michigan. Our efforts garnered additional library funding with tax capture relief, important tax reimbursements and increases to state aid. We provided new programs including health insurance consulting, strategic planning and new networking opportunities with MLA Interest Groups. Thank you for your membership, engagement and advocacy. Without your participation, this success would not be possible.
Thanks to a team of dedicated librarians, MLA and GCSI lobbyists, we saw the culmination of decades of hard work. Six MLA-initiated bills protecting library millages from tax capture and returning more than $8 million annually to library budgets were signed into law this year. In January, Governor Rick Snyder enacted SB 619-624 now PA 505-510 providing for specially dedicated library millages to be exempt from a number of tax captures. This achievement not only ensures millions of future tax dollars will go to libraries, but it is recognition by the legislature and administration that libraries are unique and important. Our special millages were the only ones given consideration (only the fourth historically) for an exemption in a year that saw a multitude of TIFA bills introduced.
MLA worked to secure an increase of nearly $1.2 million in state aid to libraries - the highest state aid numbers since 2008. The fiscal year 2018 State of Michigan budget went to the governor's desk with a $1,191,700.13 boost in funding for libraries in the state aid to libraries line item. This is great news as we advocate to gradually rebuild this funding source.
MLA educated librarians to ensure they received their Personal Property Tax reimbursement from municipalities. District libraries saw reimbursements above expected amounts due to additional payments collected by the Local Community Stabilization Authority. These were amounts above what was needed for full reimbursement of revenue losses resulting from Personal Property Tax reform. Such payments will continue in future years under current law.
MLA opposed legislation that would have limited millage proposals to the November ballot only. Work with the bill sponsor ensured only the February millage option was eliminated.
MLA's organizational memberships continue to increase. 2016-17 included 309 organizational with 1,434 individual members from public, academic, cooperative, special and K-12 libraries. 2017-18 has already surpassed those numbers.
MLA partnered with National Insurance Services (NIS) to provide much needed health insurance consulting for Michigan libraries. After being extensively vetted by the MLA office and Board of Directors, NIS was selected to offer a new insurance management opportunity to MLA members.
We experienced a disappointing delay with the startup of the program due to recent changes made by President Trump in the affordable care act. However, the program should be up and running by February 1.
The MLA Board of Directors launched informal Interest Groups to foster member engagement in addition to current MLA professional development opportunities. Youth Services, Intellectual Freedom, Academic Libraries, Rural Libraries, Library Administration and Public Programming are a few of the groups now forming.
MLA education benefited 931 library professionals at MLA conferences and workshops. MLA continued to expand and enhance the MLA Mentor program increasing both volunteer opportunities and leadership building skills.
MLA members continue to serve their profession with 93 members volunteering and leading on MLA's Board of Directors, standing committees and work groups. MLA expanded micro-volunteering opportunities in communications with content curation for web and newsletter, social media and member outreach.
The Federal Communications Commission voted today to scrap net neutrality regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service for certain content. The federal government will also no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, like phone services. MLA signed on to the ALA Net Neutrality letter to Energy and Commerce committee encouraging them to pull the vote from the FCC scheduled for today. The letter strongly urged Congress to stand up for the communities they serve by protecting net neutrality.
Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) must enable access to all legal content and applications regardless of the source and without favoring or blocking specific services or websites. Strong, enforceable rules are critical to the functioning of modern libraries because we rely on the internet to collect, create and disseminate essential online information and services to the public. Libraries and our patrons cannot afford to be relegated to "slow lanes" on the internet.
Watch for communication after the first of the year that will help you obtain the most accurate penal fines information from your county treasurer and compare it with data from the Library of Michigan. Additionally, we continue to research information about the local judicial system's impact on the fines.
We wish you a wonderful holiday season and a happy and successful New Year.