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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 the passage in both the House and Senate, through signature into law by the Governor.
103rd Illinois General Assembly
ILA's Legislative Agenda
ILA's Public Policy Committee worked hard in the summer and autumn of 2023, collecting, researching, and deliberating about possible legislative priorities for the association to pursue in the upcoming 2024 session. PPC made recommendations to the ILA Executive Board, which approved the following legislative priorities following its September 14, 2023 meeting:
Raise the Current Competitive Bidding Threshold
The Illinois Local Library Act and the Public Library District Act of 1991 currently set the competitive bidding threshold at $25,000. The association will support legislation seeking an inflationary adjustment to today’s statutory competitive bid threshold dollar amount for administrative burden relief and taxpayer savings.
Amend the Acquisition of Treasure Bonds for Libraries
Illinois libraries are required to acquire treasurer bonds at 50% of the total funds received by a library in the most previous fiscal year. Other units of local government, however, are required to acquire treasurer bonds between 10-25% of yearly collected revenue. ILA will introduce legislation seeking parity between libraries and other governmental units to require library treasurers to hold a bond of 10-25% of total revenue collections from the previous fiscal year.
Equitable Access to Electronic Literary Materials Act
Restrictions placed on libraries accessing digital content have posed a challenge in acquiring and providing access to eBooks, as publishers often impose restrictive licensing and contractual terms. Most publishers and eBook aggregators force libraries to acquire eBooks with licensing terms that make it impossible to meet library standard access and preservation missions. ILA will propose legislation seeking to change this through a new state law based on consumer protection, contract law, and contract preemption to regulate library eBook contracts with publishers.
Amend the Local Records Act to Streamline Disposal of Records
ILA seeks an amendment to the Local Records Act that would allow the Records Management Section of the Illinois State Archives to set a general schedule for public libraries that would allow for automatic permanent destruction of some records after a set period of time. Retention is set through an approved period of time by record type as defined by the Records Management Section. This change would result in significant time and money savings on behalf of public libraries, as well as a clearer understanding of record management standards from the state of Illinois.
Flexibility in Use of Funds for Public Library Districts
The ILA is investigating options that l would increase flexibility in the tax levied for the establishment, maintenance, and support of a district library. Libraries need to compensate staff fairly and in keeping with the mandated minimum wage increase. At the same time, costs have increased dramatically across the board, including for building maintenance. Flexibility in how district library boards may apply the funds from the levy will enable libraries to maintain programs, services, hours, and collections without asking for any additional support from taxpayers or the state.
While these are the main pillars of ILA's legislative focus, we always seek to continue to tweak state law in keeping with our Public Policy Principle to "Increase Effectiveness in Illinois Libraries." We thank the PPC and at-large association members who bring suggestions forward for consideration.