Public Policy Committee Annual Report

The Public Policy Committee had a busy and productive year culminating in the July 4th passage of the Library Construction Bond in the NJ Senate. We await the Governor's action on the bill at this time.  In August 2016 we created a Construction Bond subcommittee, led by Jeanne Ryan, to focus efforts on passage of this legislation in time to be on the November 2017 ballot.  Assuming the Governor signs the bill, we have met that goal.  Jeanne and subcommittee members Amy Babcock-Landry, Chris Carbone, Sarah Lester, Pat Tumulty, Marie Coughlin and John Wallace deserve recognition for the outstanding job they did in moving this legislation forward.

The PPC recommended to the Executive Board that NJLA adopt the Digital Privacy Pledge from the Library Freedom Project.  The Board did so and several NJLA units sponsored programming at the conference to assist member libraries in understanding the importance of digital privacy and the role libraries can play in assuring patrons' digital privacy. 

In 2016-2017 we were involved in the following issues resulting in policy statements, legal opinions, etc.

NJLA Correspondence with New Jersey State Library Regarding Rochelle Park Library

NJLA Statement on Inclusion

Position Paper on Political Speech/Campaigning at Public Libraries




Digital Privacy Pledge

PPC convened a meeting of representatives from various other NJLA units to discuss barriers to access library services that currently exist and what, if anything, NJLA should say about this issue.  There were about 25 people who attended the meeting.  There was a lively discussion regarding what constitutes a barrier to library services and how best to address them.  There was also some discussion about whether NJLA's efforts should be focused on a policy statement and/or continuing education efforts to address barriers to service.  While there was much interest in continuing this discussion, there was no clear 'home' within NJLA to do so.  With the ensuing discussions about developing an NJLA code of values this discussion was paused.  Once the code is developed we should revisit this issue.

In August the PPC recommended adoption of the statement on the The Role of Effective School Library Programs in The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015:  A Position Statement from New Jersey Association of School Librarians, New Jersey Association of School Librarians, New Jersey Library Association, and LibraryLinkNJ

The State Library reported at our August meeting that they would be requesting a substantial increase in state funding for improvements to JerseyConnect.  This led to a discussion of the services provided by JerseyConnect, the number of libraries using those services, and the broader question of the lack of a statewide broadband vision/plan for NJ libraries.  Considerable discussion ensued during the fall, including meetings with the State Librarian and JerseyConnect staff to discuss a broader planning effort that would serve all NJ public library bandwidth planning needs.  Ultimately the State opted to conduct a study based only on JerseyConnect and its needs.  This concerned the PPC but as we did not have funds to contribute to the project we were unable to convince the State Library that a broader study was needed.

Throughout the year we continued to work on the bills allowing local municipal libraries to request additional funding from voters in their communities. A1427 passed the Assembly with strong bipartisan support in September.  The companion Senate Bill S2633 was introduced in October but has not yet had a committee hearing.  NJLA must focus its efforts on the S2633 once the campaign for the construction bond concludes in November.  I believe this must be NJLA’s next major policy effort.

We also worked on the Reader Privacy Bill although current language, as amended by the Attorney General’s office, does not include the provisions we require to fully protect reader’s privacy.

Our annual public policy forum was held in December, with about 50 people in attendance.  The forum was well received and continues to meet a need among NJLA members.  At our January meeting we discussed many ways to improve the forums in the future.  Details of those suggestions can be found in our January Minutes.

We also updated and revised the NJLA Legislative Platform.  This year we opted to separate our budget priorities from our legislative priorities and I think this was useful.

Budget (

Legislative (

PPC conference programs included the well-attended pre-conference with Patrick Sweeney, our Update session, the School Library TF session and the Library Achievements TF session.

This year’s Advocacy Week (or Fortnight as it turned out) was successful in building momentum and support for the construction bond.  As Chair I found it confusing as to who was in charge of this annual advocacy effort and I would encourage NJLA to make the responsibility for this effort more clear.  I found I was working on things that others were also working on and it led to multiple duplicative efforts.

Activities on the federal level included a very successful Federal Legislative Day as well as advocacy on behalf of ALA on the budget and the Appropriations Bill language making Congressional Research Reports accessible to all Americans.

All in all we had a very busy and successful year, though there is still much work to be done (as always).  With proposed federal funding cuts and stagnant state funding, NJLA must prepare its members for fewer statewide services.  It should begin planning for establishing NJLA member funding priorities and seek ways to work with the state library to protect funding priorities from the perspective of NJLA’s membership.

Goals for Next Year: 
1. Ballot initiative for construction bond. 2. Passage of A1427/S2633. 3. Develop federal/state funding priorities to advocate for should federal funding be cut or eliminated. 4. Develop a process of responsibility for Advocacy Week.
Reporting Year: