United for Libraries presents Public Service Award to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

For Immediate Release
Tue, 05/06/2014

Contact:

Jillian Kalonick
Marketing/Public Relations Specialist
United for Libraries
jkalonick@ala.org

PHILADELPHIA —  Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) accepted the 2014 Public Service Award, given by United for Libraries, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), on May 5 during National Library Legislative Day activities in Washington, D.C. He was introduced by Vermont State Librarian Martha Reid.

The Public Service Award, United for Libraries’ highest honor for legislators who support library issues, is being given for Leahy’s introduction of S. 1599, the USA FREEDOM Act, a companion bill to H.R. 3361 (also the USA FREEDOM Act). H.R. 3361 was introduced by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who also received the Public Service Award.

The bill would require the government to make disclosures about the intelligence surveillance it conducts and establish a process for declassifying opinions issued by the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court. Additionally, the law would end the bulk collection of phone and other business records by the government of U.S. citizens, allow telecommunications and Internet companies to make public the number of FISA orders and national security letters received and complied with and allow those receiving a national security letter to immediately challenge it in court.

The ALA’s  involvement in privacy policies stems from the library principle to protect patron confidentiality. “We waited for more than a decade for privacy reforms of this magnitude,” said ALA President Barbara Stripling. “The public deserves more transparency and accountability than what we’ve been seeing from the Obama Administration. The library community welcomes this bipartisan effort because it shows us that reasonable privacy expectations are possible.”

Leahy was elected to the United States Senate in 1974 and remains the only Democrat elected to this office from Vermont.  At 34, he was the youngest U.S. senator ever to be elected from that state. Leahy is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He is the senior-most member of the Appropriations Committee and of the Agriculture Committee, and chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State Department, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. He ranks first in seniority in the Senate and is the President Pro Tempore.

The Public Service Award is given annually by United for Libraries to a legislator who has been especially supportive of libraries. The first award was presented in 1989 to Congressman Major Owens (D-N.Y.), the only librarian serving in Congress. Other recent awardees include Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Rush Holt (D-N.J.), and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.). For more information about the award, visit www.ala.org/united/grants_awards/public_service.

United for Libraries: The Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations, is a division of the American Library Association that supports those who govern, promote, advocate, and fundraise for libraries. United for Libraries brings together library Trustees, advocates, friends, and foundations into a partnership that creates a powerful force for libraries in the 21st century. For more information or to join United for Libraries, contact Jillian Kalonick at (312) 280-2161 or jkalonick@ala.org

###