United for Libraries trustees oppose library board legislation

For Immediate Release
Tue, 02/16/2016

Contact:

Marci Merola
Director
Office for Library Advocacy

CHICAGO – United for Libraries took a stance against Nebraska Legislative Bill 969, which would allow for local library boards to become advisory bodies, threatening the autonomy of public libraries. United for Libraries President Ed McBride and President-Elect Steve Laird, have authored letters of support for maintaining independent library boards in Nebraska, distributed to the General Affairs Committee of the Nebraska Legislature, State Senator Heath Mello, and Speaker of the Legislature Galen Hadley. 

McBride, President of United for Libraries, wrote in favor of governing library boards and their efficacy in impacting the community:

“It’s my experience that governing boards make libraries stronger and we need no better proof of that than to look at Nebraska’s own libraries which are primarily governed by boards who have autonomy in governing their libraries and who have shown the nation how even the smallest rural libraries can make a huge impact on their communities.

"When boards have governing authority, they work in partnership with the library director to ensure that they are providing the best service possible to their communities.  They are directly responsible to the people they serve and are immune to the political whims of local government.  In short, governing boards make libraries better and more accountable to those they serve.”

Laird, a Nebraska resident and President of ReferenceUSA, a division of InfoUSA, spoke about the high quality service Nebraska libraries provide their residents:

“Nebraska has some of the best libraries in the nation.  They were among the first libraries to acquire Bill and Melinda Gates grants to put computers in libraries.  In addition, we were first to host Big Talk from Small Libraries – a live webcast that enjoys international participation.  Recently, Nebraska’s libraries received a grant from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the American Library Association to host “Smart Investing @ Your Library Builds Nebraska Communities” across the state.

"These are just a few examples of how well Nebraska libraries are serving their communities. It’s not just luck that got us to this place: I believe that Nebraska libraries thrive and continue to be a model for libraries around the nation because the governing boards of our libraries are mission-driven and stand apart from any political influence.  Our governing boards are of the people and for the people; they are not answerable to local politicians who may not have libraries and those they serve as priorities.”

He also authored an op-ed opposing LB 969, published in the Omaha World-Herald on February 14, 2016, available via the following link: http://www.omaha.com/opinion/midlands-voices-library-boards-need-independence/article_adb11a5c-a96a-5953-8fa1-2cb871be5c64.html