Executive Director's Desk - December 8, 2016

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With the new year quickly approaching, this is a good time to reflect on MLA's challenges and accomplishment over the past 12 months. This year MLA celebrated 125 years of successfully supporting libraries and library professionals. Thank you volunteers for your time, efforts and support. Without the engagement of MLA members none of these successes would be possible.
 
Always mission critical is the continued funding of our libraries. We started out a year ago with efforts to defeat SB 571/PA 269. This bill would have limited communications prior to a ballot proposal. The bill was passed in the dark of night on the last day of session in 2015. A massive outreach by MLA, EveryLibrary and other groups did not give us our hoped-for results. The governor signed the bill. However, the egregious portions of PA 269 quickly were enjoined through the collaborative legal efforts of MLA and other stakeholders.
 
Efforts to find relief from tax capture for our libraries has been a number one issue for MLA this year. Seven bills (SB 579 and SB 619-624) are now awaiting action in the House. Getting these bills to this point took the time and effort of many dedicated and engaged librarians as well as MLA staff and the lobbyists on our team. In an unprecedented show of support to the library community, the Senate passed the bills 36 to 2. Next the bills went to the House Tax Policy Committee where they were held up while groups worked on a more comprehensive solution to all tax captures this year. If you have not yet contacted your representative, there is still time. The clock is ticking with just one more week of session this year. http://cqrcengage.com/alami/action
 
Penal fines continued to command attention from lawmakers. This year through the efforts of MLA along with GCSI lobbyists, we secured changes to legislation that ensured penal fines continued to go to libraries and even included an increase in those fines.
 
Of course the dark store issue continues to haunt libraries. MLA supports legislation that would curb the ability of tax tribunals to reverse taxes for big box stores and some power plants. MLA participated in a number of amicus briefs supporting a legal remedy. Legislation addressing the issue will likely expire at the end of the year. However, this issue will resurface early in the new year and MLA will continue to be engaged.
 
Our advocacy reached to the White House this year as the MLA board of directors authorized formal support for Carla Hayden who was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress on September 14, 2016. Hayden is the first woman and the first African American to lead the national library. A letter signed by past president Leslie Warren was sent to President Obama.
 
Also mission critical are MLA's efforts to keep library professionals well informed. As libraries evolve to meet the needs of their communities, librarians work hard to stay ahead of the game.
 
Design thinking was the key topic at the MLA Academic Libraries program. This method of problem solving spans library types and reaches to other industries including MLA. Youth librarians shared best practices and celebrated "cool things my library does" at Spring Institute.
 
Annual conference provided creative solutions such as Detroit Soup and the successful spinoff Library Soup where one deserving idea took home funding for their project. Keynoter Shannon McClintock Miller outlined how library professionals can empower others to use communication, creativity, social media, collaboration and connections to make a difference, encouraging us to "Be the Change" in our library.
 
MLA also added webinars and half-day seminars to the mix of professional development offerings this year.
 
In a collaborative effort with Coop Directors Association, Library of Michigan, MCLS, MIALA and MAME, MLA helped sponsor the outstanding program Reading Redefined: Deep Reading, Learning, and the Impact of Digitization with renowned researcher Maryanne Wolf, Ph.D. - Director, Center for Reading and Language Research.
 
All of these efforts were enhanced by MLA member volunteers who gave their time and expertise to support their library community. When the MLA call for volunteers comes out next spring, please take a moment to consider volunteering. There will be new volunteer opportunities to help you expand your network, grow your leadership skills and give back to the library community.
 
Happy holidays and happy new year.
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