With the deadline now passed to petition the U.S. House of Representatives, the American Library Association this week is turning its attention to the Senate, where a May 10 deadline looms for library advocates to get their senators to sign onto a "Dear Appropriator" letter urging level funding for libraries in the fiscal year 2025 budget.

This week, ALA reported that library advocates succeeded in securing 104 signatures of House member in support of level LSTA funding, a 10% increase from 2023, while signatures in support of IAL funding were down slightly, with 61 signatures this year compared to 68 in 2023. "Overall, we saw an uptick in support from last year," ALA reps reported. "Now the Senate deadline is one week away, and we're behind where we were last year."

The so-called "Dear Appropriator" letters are an important advocacy tool, with which lawmakers set their priorities for the upcoming budget negotiations. Federal library funding is facing an especially tough fight in the current budget process amid partisan gridlock, election year politicking, and a surprise 4% cut in LSTA funding proposed by the White House. To contact their U.S. senators, advocates can visit the ALA's advocacy page.

“LSTA and IAL are the only sources of dedicated federal funding for libraries, and we are the lead advocates," ALA president Emily Drabinksi told PW. "The more support library programs have at this stage in the process, the more likely we are to see success when the slicing and dicing of the budget begins in earnest.”

With state legislative sessions winding down, expect a flurry of headlines in the coming weeks about library-related bills, including this welcome headline from Louisiana, where the Louisiana Illuminator reports that two bill targeting libraries and librarians were shelved in committee. "House Bill 777 by Rep. Kellee Hennessy Dickerson, R-Denham Springs, which would prohibit the use of public funds on the American Library Association (ALA); and House Bill 946 by Rep. Jay Gallé, R-Covington, which would allow parish governments to remove library board members at any time, for any reason," the report states. "Both bills were spiked amid bipartisan pushback, with several Republicans raising concerns about libraries and librarians being targeted as part of a national agenda."

Over at Book Riot, Kelly Jensen's weekly censorship news roundup begins with a look at the damage done by legislative proposals to criminalize library work. "It does not matter whether these bills pass or whether they even make it to their respective legislative chamber floors," she writes. "By drafting these bills, legislators play right into the greater scheme and do damage to underpaid, overworked, poorly funded institutions of democracy and civic engagement."

In Texas, KHOU-11 reports that the third largest school district in Texas is cutting dozens of its librarians. "Cypress-Fairbanks ISD confirmed that it's cutting 50 librarian positions. Those cuts were made official in an email sent after business hours," the report notes. "The superintendent released a lengthy message to the district and media Wednesday, blaming the shortfall on a decline in student attendance, record inflation, and the expiration of federal stimulus funding."

We hope her trailblazing candidacy encourages more librarians to engage with public service and policymaking...

In Utah, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that University of Utah associate librarian Rebekah Cummings is the Utah Democratic Party’s nominee for lieutenant governor. "Cummings is the digital matters interim director at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library and the chair of the Utah State Library board. She served as the Utah Library Association’s president from 2018 to 2019. She is also co-chair of the Utah Library Association Advocacy Committee," the report states.

EveryLibrary has a post on Rebekah Cummings's selection as a candidate for lieutenant governor. "For the first time to our knowledge, a librarian, Rebekah Cummings, is running for the office of Lt. Governor on a major party ticket in the United States," the post begins, going on to note her considerable achievements. "We hope her trailblazing candidacy encourages more librarians to engage with public service and policymaking."

Over at American Libraries, Marshall Breeding offers his annual review of the library tech space. "The library technology industry had a quiet year in 2023. But in the absence of major business moves and acquisitions, companies set their sights on executing strategies to strengthen their market position."

InsideHigherEd has a piece on new guidance from the Association of Research Libraries. “The seven guiding principles from the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) focus on the development and deployment of generative AI, which usually refers to large language models such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT,” the article states, noting the ARL's aim to “promote ethical and transparent practices, and build trust among stakeholders, within research libraries as well as across the research environment.”

The Alabama Political Reporter has an article on a state library board hearing about the support, or lack of support, for Gov. Kay Ivey’s proposed changes to the Alabama Public Library Service, which would require libraries to adopt new policies to be eligible for state aid. "There were two clear sides between the speakers—one side that opposed the changes and believes libraries are already handling materials appropriately and the other side which believes libraries are allowing inappropriate content to be placed in sections for children and young adults," the report notes. "The board did not give any details on the 4,000 letters received and how many were in favor of the code changes vs. against."

The New York Times has a report that rare editions of books by Russian authors Nikolai Gogol and Alexander Pushkin are vanishing from libraries in Europe. "In most cases, the originals were replaced with high-quality copies that mimicked even their foxing—a sign of a sophisticated operation," the report notes. "The disappearance of so many books of the same ilk from so many countries in a relatively short period is unprecedented, experts said."

And finally this week, Library Journal has released its 2024 class of Movers & Shakers. It's another extraordinary list. "Over the past 22 years, Library Journal’s Movers & Shakers awards have offered a compelling snapshot of what’s up and coming in the library world." writes LJ executive editor Lisa Peet. "The individuals and groups we have featured represent a range of innovative, proactive, and supportive work. But taking the wide view of more than two decades of Movers reveals much about the field’s status quo as well: what was remarkable that is now expected, what caught us by surprise that has been folded into the everyday."

The Week in Libraries is a weekly opinion and news column. News, tips, submissions, questions or comments are welcome, and can be submitted via email. Previous columns can be viewed here.