Latest NYLA Legislative News & Federal Action Needed on Skills (Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries) Act

The Governor signed into law yesterday, legislation ( S.4053 Farley/A.6468 Reilly) which will allow public library systems to apply for local government efficiency grants administered by the Department of State. The grants can be used to study and implement shared services, cooperative arrangements and other cost saving measures. Chapter 470.

This is the second of our priority bills to be signed into law this year, the first was legislation (S.5244 McDonald/A.6839 Nolan), which would allow the State Library to be open flexible hours. Chapter 261.

The remaining priority bill that passed both houses, S.4101 Farley/A.113 Paulin, which would modify the public library construction grant program to allow grants to be used to purchase vacant land and lower local match to 25% of project costs for libraries in high need areas, is still waiting to be sent to Governor. The bill should be sent to the Governor by the end of September.

Our updated 2011 Legislative Priorities can be found on our website at

Also please call both of your U.S. Senators at the capitol switchboard, 202-224-3121, and ask them to co-sponsor S. 1328 the “Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries Act” or the SKILLs Act.

The SKILLs Act was introduced on July 6 by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and will amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) by:

  • Ensuring that funds will serve school libraries in elementary, middle and high schools;
  • Improving literacy and college and career readiness through effective school library programs;
  • Encouraging coordination and shared planning time among school librarians and classroom teachers;
  • Expanding professional development to include digital literacy instruction that is appropriate for all grade levels, an assessment of student literacy needs, the coordination of reading and writing instructions across content areas, and training in literacy strategies in all content areas;
  • Requiring books and materials to be appropriate for all students in all grade levels and students with special learning needs, including English language learners;
  • Providing grants on a competitive basis for a period of three years;
  • Targeting funding to school districts with 20% or greater levels of students in poverty;
  • Ensuring an equitable distribution of funds among the different geographic regions of the country and among urban and rural areas; and
  • Requiring greater coordination among other literacy, technology, and professional development funds and activities.

This legislation is very important for the future of school libraries within the federal government. So please call today and encourage your colleagues, neighbors, friends, family, and others to do the same. To find out who your two senators are please refer to the ALA Legislation Action Center

Be sure to post a comment to your member’s Facebook page and/or Twitter account (if they have them) asking them to co-sponsor the SKILLs Act.

As of August 17 the following senators have agreed to co-sponsor this bill:
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
John Kerry (D-MA)

Michael J. Borges
Executive Director
New York Library Association
6021 State Farm Road
Guilderland, New York 12084
518-432-6952, ext. 101
518-427-1697 (fax)

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