LITA Manual Section 14 Legislative Policy and Legislative Guide to Action

Prepared by the LITA Legislation and regulation committee
(Based on ACRL's Legislative Policy, Issued 1982)

LITA Legislative Policy Statement
Priorities and Time of Action
Possible Actions
Organization for Action

LITA Manual Table of Contents

I. Introduction

This document includes in brief: legislative policy statement for the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA); the rational behind that policy; means by which it can be implemented; a general guide to legislative action by LITA; and a list of committees and groups who do (or can) guide, influence, or assist in LITA legislative activities.

This policy supports, complements, and in some instances augments the legislative policies of the American Library Association (ALA), LITA's parent organization. Legislative actions of LITA are closely intertwined with those of ALA, its divisions and units.

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II. LITA Legislative Policy Statement

The Library and Information Technology Association takes appropriate action whenever necessary to recommend and/or promote legislation (including statutory and administrative laws, executive policies standards, regulations, rulings, and legal decisions) and international agreements which facilitate access to information through information and communications technologies and which support the mission and goals of LITA. Appropriate action also will be taken to protest legislation and international agreements which adversely affect the availability and use of such technologies and the mission and goals of LITA.

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III. Rationale

Actions of the federal government (and to a lesser extent foreign, state and local governments) can significantly affect progress toward LITA's mission and goals, and the Division must be willing and prepared to influence government action. The federal government, via legislation, regulations, executive policies, programs, and legal interpretations, provides regulation and/or fiscal support which directly affect the development and the use of information technologies. In addition to existing and planned legislation and regulation which may need to be supported, modified, or eliminated, new legislation and regulation may be the most effective way of addressing complex problems affecting appropriate uses of technology in improving access to information.

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IV. Priorities and Time of Action

Each year the LITA Legislation and Regulation Committee will develop a legislative program for LITA which reflects the current legislative scene and the interests of LITA, and which takes into consideration views of the LITA Board of Directors and the LITA Membership. This program will include a basic list of federal legislation goals and objectives to be pursued by the committee and the membership during the year. Progress on these goals and objectives will serve as part of the annual report of the committee. Naturally, the program must be flexible enough to accommodate unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and changes in priorities that result from development during the year.

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V. Possible Actions

Implementation of the LITA Legislative Policy, and programs which support that policy, will require that LITA take actions such as the following:

A. Review and analyze implications of legislation (including statutory and administrative laws, rulings, or legal decisions) and international agreements which do or could affect information technologies and their development and use.

B. Communicate the results of such reviews and analyses, and the LITA viewpoint resulting from those reviews and analyses, to LITA members and units, public officials, other associations, etc. This may involve the development of position statements, resolutions, congressional testimony, or other documents.

C. Develop appropriate strategies for support of the LITA position, and take action as needed.

D. Mobilize support within and outside LITA for legislation and agreements beneficial to the development and use of information technologies; mobilize support for adequate funding of existing programs; and mobilize opposition to legislation and agreements which adversely affect information technologies.

E. Inform public officials of the value and importance of information technology issues, and the consequences of legislation and regulations for libraries, higher education, and national information systems.

F. Provide a forum within LITA for discussion of key issues and developments, and to gather member feedback on those issues and developments.

G. Educate LITA members (and other individuals interested in the issues LITA works on) about the political process and the issues related to information technologies, and how they can exercise effectively their citizen privileges and responsibilities to influence political opinion.

H. Guide other units of LITA in matters relating to legislation.

I. Encourage and motivate members to be involved in the political process, provide them as many resources as possible to facilitate their involvement, keep them informed of legislative developments, and prompt them when political action is needed.

J. Cooperate with other ALA units and units of ALA divisions, other library and information associations, professional and educational organizations, the publishing and communication industries, and others, when appropriate, to support legislation and regulations serving mutual interests and needs, and to protest legislation and regulations contrary to those interests and needs.

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V. Organization for Action

The following committees, boards, offices and other groups, all have roles to play in the implementation of LITA legislative activities, and in one way or another influence LITA legislative actions. The charges to some of these groups, and some of their key functions relative to the LITA Legislation and Regulation Committee, are:

A. LITA Legislation and Regulation Committee

Charge: "The Legislation and Regulation Committee monitors legal and regulatory development of information and communications technologies; acts as technical advisor to the ALA Committee on Legislation in legislative and regulatory matters dealing with communications technologies; reviews pending drafts, statements, or information concerning technology-related laws and regulations; identifies issues affecting libraries; provides position statements on theses issues as needed; and develops strategies as appropriate for affecting resolution of these issues. Members of the committee should expect to be called upon to provide testimony before Congressional committees and regulatory agencies as needed."

B. LITA Office

  1. Provides support services for regular work of the committee and for legislative actions.
  2. Monitor legislative and regulatory developments and initiates action via the committee and/or directly, as needed; assist the committee in setting legislative priorities for LITA.
  3. Keeps LITA members (and others) aware of legislative issues and activities and broader issues related to legislation, through publications of the association (e.g., Information Technology and Libraries and LITA Newsletter) and other means.

C. LITA Board of Directors

Approves resolutions and other legislative and regulatory activities of LITA and the LITA Legislation and Regulation Committee, and provides the funding needed for such activities; and assists the committee in setting legislative priorities for LITA, and in carrying out legislative programs.

D. LITA Legislative Network

Consists of many LITA members, nationwide, who volunteer to write legislators and in other ways take action on legislative issues. Action of this network is coordinated by the LITA Legislation Committee with assistance form the LITA Office and the ALA Washington Office. Contact with the network is maintained via memoranda and "calls for action" sent to the network as needed.

E. LITA Membership

Assists the committee in setting legislative priorities for LITA and carries out much of the prescribed action either individually or through LITA committees and interest groups. Members are encouraged to write voluntarily to legislators and in other ways take action on legislative and regulation issues affecting information technologies.

F. ALA Washington Office

  1. Keeps LITA members (and members of ALA and other interested persons) aware of legislative developments via direct contact, formal presentations, informal communication, the ALA Washington Newsletter, etc.
  2. Provides assistance to the LITA Legislation and Regulation Committee, as needed and available, and prompts the committee when action is needed.
  3. Serves as a liaison to other associations seeking to influence legislation related to libraries, technology, and information, and higher education.
  4. Calls upon LITA Legislation and Regulation Committee to provide expertise, testimony, advice and network support in areas of library and information technology.

G. ALA Legislation Committee

  1. Charge: "To have full responsibility for the Association's total legislative program on all levels -- federal, state, and local. To recommend legislative policy and programs for Council approval and to take the necessary steps for implementation. To protest any legislation or executive policy adversely affecting libraries. To seek rulings and interpretations of laws and regulations affecting the welfare and development of libraries. To represent the ALA before executive and legislative branches of government as required at all levels. To provide a forum within ALA to gather information about needed legislation and to keep all units of the Association informed of the ALA legislative programs. To direct the activities of all unites of the Association in matters relating to legislation."
  2. Issues and regularly updates two publications: ALA Federal Legislative Policy and ALA Legislative Program.
  3. Sponsors the "Legislative Update" program presented at each annual and midwinter meeting of ALA.

H. ALA Legislative Assembly

  1. A subcommittee of the ALA Legislation Committee with representation from all ALA divisions. The chair of the LITA Legislation and Regulation Committee is the LITA representative on the Assembly.
  2. Charge: "To act in an advisory and resource capacity to the ALS Legislation Committee. The individual members, named to the Assembly by the divisions and other units as determined by the Legislation Committee, shall serve as liaison to their divisions or units in matters relative to legislation."

I. ALA Council

  1. The governing body of ALA.
  2. Acts on recommendations of the ALA Legislation Committee and puts the full weight of the Association behind issues by adopting resolutions taking particular positions.

Accepted by the Board of Directors in January 1991.

(Recommendations for future revisions to this policy statement should be directed to the Chair of the LITA Legislation and Regulation Committee.)

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