Update on Illinois HB3796 (affecting Freedom of Information Act)

Illinois House Bill 3796, which opponents argue would have severely restricted access to Freedom of Information Act-protected information, was vetoed by Governor Quinn on June 27.  The bill had passed both houses of the General Assembly by an large margin (49-1 in the House, 77-36 in the Senate).

The purpose of the legislation, according to its supporters, is to assist municipalities in handling large numbers of FOIA requests for information on government proceedings.  The bill would limit the number of documents that individuals may request at one time, and it would also allow government bodies to take more time in responding to requests.  The restrictions would fall on primarily the general public, as there would be exemptions for members of non-profit, academic, or scientific organizations.

A number of groups, among them the Better Government Association, have lobbied against the bill.  The main concern raised by opponents, beyond just the restrictions on access to information, is that, by limiting public access to records of government proceedings, government transparency could be limited.  Of particular concern is that the legislation would create a separate category of requests titled “Voluminous Requests”, the definition of which could become so vague that virtually any number of requests being deemed as “large” could be placed into the category.  This would be on top of several FOIA provisions that already restrict access.

The restrictions on government transparency should be of particular concern to libraries.  It is especially crucial in these times, with budgets being enacted or at least discussed, that library staff members, and the public as a whole, have access to much information as possible on government proceedings.  As funding decisions affecting public libraries, in particular, are made at the municipal level, transparency in those proceedings is even more crucial.

Since the bill passed both houses of the General Assembly by a wide margin, it is technically “veto-proof”, meaning that legislators can decide to hold another vote, to override the Governor’s veto.  This is a situation that definitely bears monitoring.

Here is the link to the legislation on the ILGA website: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=3796&GAID=12&GA=98&DocTypeID=HB&LegID=77707&SessionID=85.

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General Assembly spring session overview

The Illinois General Assembly just concluded its Spring 2014 session.  A number of pieces of legislation affecting libraries, especially in terms of funding, were on the schedule.  Among them were the following:

House Bill 3793–funds capital appropriations for projects at specific libraries

House Bill 3796–amends the Freedom of Information Act to allow individuals requesting large amounts of information from a public body to receive that information more quickly

House Bill 4207–imposes restrictions on cyberbullying (ILA opposes because of possibility for censorship of online comments by students in almost any forum)

House Bill 6095–provides grant appropriations for libraries, based on Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s recommended funding levels

Senate Bill 1941–creates the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act, which standardizes the format of legal material that is made available online, including ensuring that the materials are as complete as possible and that an electronic version can be preserved

Senate Bill 3071–amends the Illinois Local Library Act and the Public Library Act of 1991, to allow for libraries not to have to accept the lowest bid for a project, if the overall cost of the project is greater than $20,000 and the bid amount wouldn’t meet the library’s requirements for providing quality services All of these bills were passed by both houses, but the legislation still awaits the Governor’s approval.

Also, at this point, the formal state budget is still a work in progress.  The General Assembly has approved a $35.7 billion operating budget.  As the funding levels stand now, however, at least $2 billion in funding originally slated for FY 2015 will be pushed ahead to future fiscal years.  Even with that funding not included in the current version of the budget, there will still be almost $200 million in cuts to such health-related issues as home services, child care, and programs for the elderly.

For more information on the ILGA’s activities during the Spring 2014 session, please check out this story in the ILA newsletter.

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Legislative alert–Illinois HB4207 (cyberbullying)

Please take note of Illinois House Bill 4207, which amends the Illinois School Code to cover cyberbullying to a greater extent than it already does.  Specifically, the legislation would modify the “Bullying prevention” provision of the school code.  Under the changes, bullying via computers, or other electronic devices, at a function that is not school-related would fall under cyberbullying, even if the devices themselves are not owned by the school district.  (Under the current version of the school code, the bullying must be done via a school computer or electronic network.)  The legislation would not actually require school staff to monitor the use of electronic devices for cyberbullying; staff would simply have to respond if they received a complaint.  Here is a link to the Illinois General Assembly’s page on the bill.  The legislation passed the House on April 10 and is currently in the Education Committee in the Senate.

The link to the Illinois Library Association’s alert is here (first article, “Great Intentions, Wrong Legislation, Call Your Illinois General Assembly Senator Now!”).  As the ILA notes, the major concern regarding this legislation is that the proposed addition to the school code overextends what counts as cyberbullying.  If the changes went into effect, virtually any kind of electronic communication could be considered bullying, even if the communicating doesn’t occur on school grounds or via school equipment.  Although, as mentioned above, school staff would not have to track device use for cyberbullying, staff members would still have to respond to any complaint of possible cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying has been a legislative issue not just in Illinois, but across the country.  This government website gives a state-by-state breakdown of current cyberbullying laws, and it also has an overview of cyberbullying policies at the federal level.  Many states already have both legislation (state laws and statutes, including school codes) and policies (guidelines for school districts to follow) that cover bullying.  Illinois is one of those states that has only legislation.  Specific policies drafted by school districts, however, would provide clearer guidelines than would the proposed legislation, which, as noted before, is too broad.  As the site also details, there is currently no federal legislation dealing specifically with cyberbullying, although related legislation covering harassment and discrimination may apply to some cyberbullying scenarios.  Among legislation in the current U.S. Congress, House Resolution 2585 (H.R.2585) would establish school programs intended for preventing cyberbullying, among other types of bullying and harassment.  No action has been taken on the legislation since July of last year.

While cyberbullying is primarily a school problem (and so that is the focus of legislation in Illinois and nationally), it is also an issue in the workplace, and so attempts to curb it will likely affect the approach that hospitals and libraries take with their employees.  Additionally, legislative efforts to curb cyberbullying need to take into account the prevention and treatment programs that many medical organizations already have in place.  Another issue, specifically related to libraries (and reflected in Illinois HB4207′s approach to schools), is whether or not a library would be responsible if the cyberbullying happened via the library’s computers, or even via a personal computer that is using the library’s Wi-Fi.  Also, with more libraries allowing patrons to check out electronic devices, such as e-readers, there is also the question of whether libraries could be held liable for harassment carried out via the devices but that doesn’t take place on library premises.

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Measuring What Matters to Stakeholders – Notes from the class

On March 20, 2014,  HSLI sponsored the CE class “Measuring What Matters to Stakeholders” as a pre-conference to the Illinois Association of College and Research Libraries conference.   The session sparked a lively discussion between academic and hospital libraries about what to assess, how to assess it, and how to effectively communicate assessment results.  The class was taught by Ruth Holst, Associate Director of the Greater Midwest Region, NN/LM.

Slides from the session are available on the HSLI website at http://hsli.org/conference/archive/2014/slides.pdf

Both academic and hospital librarians at the session reported being under pressure from administration to prove their value to the organization.  Hospital librarians mentioned several recent library closures, underscoring the critical importance of stakeholder support to the survival of the library.  Academic librarians spoke about campus wide initiatives to cut expenses.  These cost-cutting measures do not exclude the library, and concerns were raised on how to protect vital services.

The first part of the class covered understanding the mission of the institution and making sure what the library does supports the institutional mission.  Applying this perspective to assessment, hospital libraries need to find measures that show how the library supports patient care.  Academic libraries need measures that show how the library affects student learning.

In addition to assessment to show value, librarians should also conduct assessment for service quality improvement.  One unique idea discussed  was recording  bibliographic instruction sessions and sharing them with students after the class.  This allows the students to review the material covered, and also allows the librarian to review his or her teaching.  Another tool discussed that is of value for both internal quality assessment and for showing value was Gimlet (http://gimlet.us/).   Gimlet is a comprehensive reference service tracking system that provides statistics on the usage of reference services, questions answered per staff member, time spent per question, and many other metrics.

Usage statistics are helpful in demonstrating library activities, but these implicit measures do not always fully illustrate how the library helps the institution meet its goals.  One method discussed to assess explicit value was to interview users about a “critical incident of use.”   As an examples of this technique,  an instructor would be asked  to describe a time when they used the library with a student and then describe what changed in the student’s work or practices as a result of using the library.  In a health care setting, a practitioner would describe a time when using library services resulted in a change to the care a patient received.  Another example is to try to capture a time when the library had prevented an adverse  event.  In an academic setting, this could be  asking students to describe a time when using the library saved them from performing poorly on an assignment.

Several methods to communicate assessment results back to stakeholders were presented.  One new technique is to create a “library dashboard.”  Dashboards are generally web-based and summarize a variety of  library statistics.  One example mentioned  was Regent, http://www.regent.edu/lib/dashboard/home.cfm   For more information on library dashboards, see the following   webinar from the NN/LM South Pacific region https://webmeeting.nih.gov/p5ss78sss3i/?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal

Dashboards quickly condense information about the library in an easy to read format.  Being able to quickly and effectively present information about the value of the library to stakeholders is vitally important.  Since opportunities to show the value of your library can happen unexpectedly, Ruth recommended that all librarians have an “elevator speech” prepared.  The elevator speech condenses vital information about the importance of your library to meeting institutional goals into a short statement that can be delivered in the time it takes to take an elevator ride.  With a speech prepared and  rehearsed, the next time you find yourself in an elevator with your director, dean, vice president, or other administrator you will be ready to tell him or her how your library supports your institution.

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Every Necessary Care and Attention: George Washington and Medicine, a traveling exhibit from the National Library of Medicine, will be on display at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, IL, from August 4 – September 13, 2014.
Online Exhibition: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/georgewashington/

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Booth Library is finalist for National Medal for Museum and Library Service

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has announced that Booth Library is a finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to the community.

Medal finalists are selected from nationwide nominations of libraries and museums that demonstrate innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach. Booth Library is one of 30 national finalists for the award, and one of only 15 libraries chosen from throughout the United States.

Booth Library was nominated based on its extensive program series and other events for the community. Series have included exhibits and programs based on different topics each semester, including America’s Music, Farm Life, Elizabeth I, Frankenstein, Benjamin Franklin, Teachers Tame the Prairie, Harry Potter’s World, Building Memories: Creating a Campus Community and the current program series, Muslim Journeys. These series have offered a variety of films, discussions, lectures, musical and theater performances, exhibits and other activities for free to the community.

In addition, Booth Library sponsors many other programs for the campus and community at large. For example, through the Booth After Hours program, specific campus groups are invited to the library after hours for programs designed specifically for them. Area high school classes regularly visit Booth Library for free instruction and research help from Booth reference librarians. For several years, the library has welcomed librarians from around the world as part of the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs. In addition, the library recently hosted a reception for area librarians to network and reconnect.

“Our library is dedicated to quality public service,” said Allen Lanham, dean of library services. “We excel at providing materials and information to Eastern’s students and faculty. However, a major goal is to create an environment in which citizens in our region can explore topics of interest and take time to discuss issues with others as they remain active learners.”

Finalists for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service are chosen because of their significant and exceptional contributions to their communities.

“Museums and libraries serve as civic gathering places, bringing together individuals in pursuit of educational resources, community connections, skills development, and multifaceted lifelong learning,” said Susan Hildreth, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “We are very proud to announce Booth Library as a finalist for the 2014 National Medal. This year’s National Medal finalists illustrate the many ways museums and libraries can excite lifelong learning and civic engagement.”

IMLS is encouraging community members who have visited Booth Library to “share their story” on the IMLS Facebook page, www.facebook.com/USIMLS, which is accessible here. Community members are encouraged to visit the site to post comments, photos or videos demonstrating how Booth Library has made an impact on them.

The National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners will be announced in April, and the medals will be awarded during a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. IMLS’ grant making, policy development and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit http://www.imls.gov or follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.

This year, IMLS celebrates the 20th anniversary of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. For the past two decades, the National Medal has honored outstanding institutions that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Including 2013 winners, 132 institutions have received this honor, and 10 additional institutions will be awarded in 2014.

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Action needed on Illinois HB3898–retirement funding

The Illinois Library Association is calling for action on Illinois House Bill 3898, which modifies the Illinois Pension Code.  Specifically, an amendment to the legislation eliminates the supplemental benefit payment–also referred to as the “13th payment”–from the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF).  The payment is essentially deferred compensation intended to balance out the rising cost of inflation, and it has been supported by the Illinois General Assembly since 1992.  Currently, each IMRF employer is required to contribute only 0.62% (less than 1 percent) of its annual IMRF funding to cover the 13th payment.  The average annual 13th payment to an IMRF retiree was $343 in 2013.
The IMRF has argued that, on top of the financial impact, cutting the 13th payment would violate the Illinois Constitution.  The Constitution protects benefits, including those under the 13th payment, for current and retired IMRF-covered employees.
The legislation was introduced on January 3 of this year.  It moved out of committee on March 25 and will now be considered by the full House.
For more information on the legislation and its potential effect on the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, please see the IMRF website, specifically http://www.imrf.org/legislation/legislation-to-eliminate-13th-payment.html and http://www.imrf.org/legislation/03-26-14-13th-payment.html.
To view information on the legislation itself, including updates on its status in the Illinois General Assembly, please visit http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=3898&GAID=12&GA=98&DocTypeID=HB&LegID=77811&SessionID=85.

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Harry Potter’s World on display at SIU Medical Library

HPW-main“Harry Potter’s World:  Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine” will be available for viewing from March 10 through April 18 at the SIU Medical Library. This exhibition was produced by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health and is  curated by Elizabeth J. Bland.

A special musical event, Music, Magic and Medicine,  will be held at 12:00 noon on March 19 featuring medical students Amanda Bakker and Carolyn Roloff each performing on harp and violin, respectively.  The library is located at 801 N. Rutledge, 4th Floor, Springfield, Illinois.  All are invited to attend this event, and refreshments will be served.



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IACRL Conference Open to HSLI Members


Register Now for the IACRL Conference

Advanced Registration Closes Friday, March 14

Register today for the 2014 IACRL Conference, which will be held Friday, March 21, at the Chicago Marriott Oak Brook

IACRL President Pattie Piotrowski, Illinois Institute of Technology, hosted an informational webinar on the conference last Friday. You can access the webinar recording here for full details.  
IACRL Attendees will hear keynote luncheon speaker, 

Moe Hosseini-Ara, Director of Culture, Culture Services

for the City of Markham, Ontario and former Director of Service Excellence at Markham Public Library speak on “Telling the Impact Story – It’s Not Just in the Numbers.” Telling Our Story is important in our institutional lives and for our institutional futures. The full conference preliminary program is available online.


You do not have to be an IACRL member to attend the conference, although membership is free when you join ILA. Come and visit with us in Oak Brook in March where you’ll find a great group of your peers seeking to learn, teach and expand on what we know about assessment and preparing you to Tell YOUR Story, about your library.


For more information on the conference and to register, please visit the conference webpage.

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FY 2015 Federal Budget’s Impact on Health and Medicine Funding

This summary from California Healthline has a good overview of the impact that the president’s proposed FY 2015 budget will have on health and medical funding, and also what the initial reaction to some of the proposals has been.  Note that the largest cuts will be in Medicare and Medicaid, with an estimated $400 billion to be slashed over the next 10 years.  These reductions are not expected to be approved by the U.S. Congress, however, as there is strong bipartisan opposition.  (That is to be expected, given that Medicare and Medicaid are the programs with which constituents are likely the most familiar and from which they benefit the most directly.)  Funding for the National Institutes of Health will rise by about $200 million, although this increase is not considered sufficient to maintain research at the level necessary for competing with other countries.


Also, the Department of Health and Human Services has put together a detailed overview of the proposed budget, including a comparison with funding levels for the past few years, and also a breakdown of how funding levels will affect various programs and initiatives under government agencies related to health and medicine.

http://www.hhs.gov/budget/#brief (“HHS Budget in Brief” link, under “Table of Contents” and “HHS Budget”)

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