Committed to serving as an advocate for Illinois libraries
ILA monitors all bills in the Illinois General Assembly that affect libraries. ILA's Public Policy Committee (PPC) carefully reviews issues and recommends action: support, oppose, or monitor. We seek to indicate "monitor" status only as we are gathering information about a bill; the goal is to ultimately support or oppose laws that will affect libraries. In rare cases, the impact on libraries remains unclear, or there is not a consensus among librarians whether to support or oppose, but in general, we try to avoid not taking a position. ILA's Quick Response Team addresses legislative issues that arise in between PPC meetings. Contact the PPC Chair, or read PPC meeting minutes, agendas, and reports to the ILA Executive Board here.
In addition to monitoring bills, ILA proactively proposes and advocates for legislation favorable to libraries; drafting changes to existing law or new law, finding sponsors for bills we wish to bring forward, and then garnering support and following the process through its passage in both the House and Senate, through signature into law by the Governor.
102nd Illinois General Assembly, Spring 2021 Session
The regular session ended on May 31, 2021, but both chambers returned in June to complete work on the budget, pending energy legislation, and a few other items. The spring session was largely a successful one for libraries, with increases to the per capita grant programs for school and public libraries written into law, and the passage of a bill requiring the teaching of media literacy in Illinois high schools.
Per Capita Grants
The FY2020-21 budget (Public Act 101-0638) and the FY2021-22 budget (Public Act 102-0017) both include increases in the per capita grant rate for both school and public libraries, from $0.75 per student to $0.885; and from $1.25 per resident to $1.475, respectively. These statutory amounts had not been raised since 1995; this year Senate Bill 2232, codifying the increases, passed both chambers of the General Assembly and was signed into law on June 25, 2021, as Public Act 102-0039. This success is a direct result of long-term advocacy on the part of all of our members to make the case for libraries' value to our elected officials, and a specific proposal from ILA that was supported by the Illinois State Library and Secretary of State.
Working together with AISLE, ILA supported House Bill 0234, which originally proposed to enable the inclusion of media literacy in Illinois high schools' curricula, and was amended to require its inclusion. The bill passed and was signed into law on July 9, 2021.
Open Educational Resources (OERs)
ILA collaborated with the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) to support Senate Bill 101, which proposed to create a College Course Materials Affordability and Equitable Access Task Force, charged with studying issues of affordability of and equitable access to textbooks. It did not pass. ILA's Public Policy Committee has been discussing OERs, and academic librarian members of PPC published an article on the topic in the March 2021 issue of the ILA Reporter. Recently, CARLI was awarded a U.S. Department of Education grant to create OERs in Illinois, and ILA will designate a representative to its advisory board.
Black Caucus Legislative Agenda, Education Platform
During the final session of the 101st Illinois General Assembly in January 2021, three of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus's four pillars were passed: Education, Criminal Justice Reform, and Economic Equity (the fourth pillar is Health Equity, which passed in the spring session). The education legislation creates an Inclusive American History Commission, which would include "a representative from a statewide organization representing school librarians." It was signed into law on March 8, 2021. The Association of Illinois School Library Educators (AISLE) will make its nominee to the body.
The Broadband Advisory Council (BAC), created in 2019, includes an ILA representative to provide two-way communication with this group and the Illinois library community, raising awareness in the BAC of libraries' potential to help achieve its goals, and informing libraries about opportunities. The BAC works with the Illinois Office of Broadband, housed in the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The office is responsible for administering the Connect Illinois broadband infrastructure grant program and develops related programming such as in the areas of community planning and capacity building and digital literacy, adoption, and inclusion.
- Libraries are explicitly eligible for the Illinois Connected Communities grant program (up to $150,000); see the Notice of Funding Opportunity, p.4.
- The BAC recently released an affordability study of universal broadband; libraries have a role to play in several of the report's recommendations (see p.9-10), particularly those relating to partnerships with community organizations that provide digital skills training (like libraries!), increasing public awareness of affordability programs, and improving the pipeline of computing devices.