Friends of Libraries U.S.A. presented its 10th Public Service Award to Representatives Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) and John Porter (R-IL). This year the emphasis was on public school libraries. Dismayed by the outdated books housed in public school libraries, Rep. Blagojevich organized a strong bipartisan coalition in support of Title 6, the endangered program that provides school libraries their only source of federal funds. At Blagojevich's urging, Gov. Jim Edgar wrote a letter urging subcommittee backing for new library books. He succeeded in winning the Urban Caucus endorsement. And, with Congressman Mike Castle (R-Delaware), Blagojevich enlisted the signatures of 70 Members of Congress on the letter urging a firm commitment to Title 6.
Rep. John Porter is chair of the Labor Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding for ESEA Title 6 and funding for education and library programs. The subcommittee voted to invest $350 million in Title 6 funding for FY 1998, assuring replacement of outdated books in the nation's public school libraries. This legislation was later passed by the full House and Senate, and signed into law by President Clinton.