By Brian C. Jones
Rhode Island Library Report
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Feb. 6, 2013) If you are going to have a Legislative Awareness Day, you can’t do any better than have state Rep. Larry Valencia, D-Richmond, Exeter and Hopkinton, stop by your table.
“I’m on the Finance Committee and I’m an ally,” Valencia told a trio of librarians manning a display of the Rhode Island Library Association, which organized today’s annual event.
Good news just as the General Assembly takes up the budget submitted by Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, who has proposed to keep state support for libraries at current levels in the next fiscal year, which begins in July – as opposed to cutting the allocation, as some had feared might happen this year.
Valencia spent 10 minutes or so chatting with the three librarians overseeing the RILA’s table, Emily Grace Mehrer, of the state-sponsored ASK RI information service and North Scituate Public Library; Chelsea Dodd, who works at Newport’s Redwood Library and Athenaeum, and the Greenville Public Library; and Miranda Nero, of Ocean State Libraries and the Cranston Public Library.
He told the Library Report afterwards that he believes that not only should the state maintain its funding for libraries, but ideally, it should increase its support, along with beefing up higher education spending.
Even at a time when books and other resources are available in digital form on the Internet, libraries remain important resources for information, said Valencia, whose legislative biography lists him as a “freelance medical and technical writer.”
More importantly, he said, librarians are valuable guides to someone trying navigating the vast rivers of information available in print and digital form: “They can point you in the right direction.”
RILA was one of the exhibitors at the two-hour event that was scheduled to end at 4 p.m., when the House was to convene. Tables were set up by various organizations in the second-floor corridor outside the entrances to the State Library and the House chamber.
The idea was to display the many facets of the Rhode Island library community – and engage legislators as they passed by on their way to committee meetings and other State House business, said Eileen Dyer, RILA president and coordinator of youth services at the Cranston Public Library.
Among other exhibitors were HELIN, the Higher Education Library Information Network consortium, through which college, university and other libraries share resources; the state Office of Library and Information Services, RILINK, a resource-sharing program for Rhode Island school libraries.
Dyer said she thinks administration and legislative officials respect the way libraries are providing new services, such as hosting computers from the
The Library Association this year asked library supporters who couldn’t attend the State House session to phone in comments, or post them on Facebook and e-mail and Tweet them, so they could be copied onto a poster board with color marker pens – a blend of old and new technologies.
Among the comments:
Sarah - Innovative programing gives me the ‘Warm-fuzzies’ when I walk through the door.
Janet - People don’t always realize that not everyone has a computer, printer, or internet at home, and the library provides that.
ASK RI regularly encourages young readers to use its reference and information services through postings on its Facebook page based on popular culture. As a lead-up to Library Legislative Awareness Day, it displayed this proposition, put in “Star Wars” terms:
Cutting Library Funding During a Recession Is Literally Like Letting Society Attack the Death Star Before Han Solo Even Had a Chance to Disable the Shield Generator on the Forest Moon of Endor!
Judging by today’s reception, the Force seems to be with the libraries.
CORRECTION: The original version of this story misspelled the name of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Sorry, we are. (And thanks to ASK RI for pointing out the correct spelling). bcj/ 2/12/13