[Libs-Or] INFORMATION: What did YOU do during summer vacation?

Diedre Conkling diedre08 at gmail.com
Mon Aug 5 16:02:15 PDT 2013


What did YOU do during summer vacation?
Posted on August 5, 2013 by Lynne Bradley

Congress is now in a five-week recess. Some pundits are asking "recess from
what?" because this 113th Congress has passed even fewer bills in its first
months between January and August than even the previous lowest-scoring
112th Congress. When they return, they will have only nine legislative days
until the government shuts down. Neither side of government (House or
Senate) has a plan or path to a plan. The House and Senate have different
caps for domestic and defense spending and they are over those caps; the
debt limit could be reached in mid-Fall; and the sequester stays in place
unless the Congress passes legislation to remove or change it (which is
very unlikely.) In this type of mess, usually little other legislation gets
passed or even discussed.

But the American Library Association (ALA) and other advocates must still
work the issues--like the surveillance and privacy issues - just as if there
is a true expectation that bills will be passed when Congress returns. And,
it could happen....

With approximately 20 bills related in one way or another to surveillance
law reforms, it is unfortunate to be in this current political situation.
But there is still hope following hearings on the extent of surveillance
abuses based upon the Snowden revelations from early June.

If you review the surveillance
you will see a variety of approaches to reform. Some of the bills would
require more reporting and transparency about government data collection as
well as more information about the number and type of requests approved by
the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). Yet other bills call
for requests to FISC be focused on individualized and targeted
investigations not wholesale big data collection about millions of people.
Other proposals attempt to use the appropriations process to either limit
practices or require changes.

In the closest vote on any type of reform since passage of the USA PATRIOT
Act in 2001, a proposal<http://www.districtdispatch.org/2013/07/amash-amendment-fails-205-217/>to
limit some NSA activities thru appropriations cuts by Rep. Justin
(R-MI) was narrowly defeated in a 205 to 217 vote recently. Sen. Durbin is
using a similar tactic in the Senate. Hope springs eternal within the civil
liberties community, that some reforms will eventually get passed in this

*What you CAN do on your summer vacation....*

Now is the time, when your representatives and senators are back home for
recess, to contact them about these important surveillance issues. By
calling their respective district or regional offices, you can find out
about town hall meetings and other events where you can ask them to support
serious reforms to the country's surveillance laws and practices. With so
many bills introduced, and likely more in September, a generalized message
is appropriate: "Reform the USA PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA) to improve the balance between our civil liberties
and security. Stop the secret collection of data about innocent people and
assure true transparency about what our government is doing in the name of

It is also a good idea to sign up for your legislators' newsletters on
their websites. Most Members of Congress have nesletters and include town
hall information in them during district work periods. To find out who your
Members of Congress are and their website infromation, use the "Find Your
Officals" box on the Legislative Action Center <http://capwiz.com/ala/home/>.
The August recess is also a great time to invite legislators to visit your
library. Check out this
webinar<http://vimeo.com/album/196486/video/8080747>on how to arrange
and plan for such a visit.

You can also advocate for full funding of the Library Services and
Technology Act (LSTA) and other library appropriations by telling your
local library story - emphasizing the benefits to library users  - whether
in public, school or academic libraries.  To keep up-to-date on all of
these issues and for action alerts, please subscribe to the Washington
Office *District Dispatch* <http://capwiz.com/ala/mlm/signup/>  and
encourage other library supporters to sign up also.  Especially encourage
library boards, friends of library groups and other supporters to use *District
Dispatch*,  we need every voice!


*Diedre Conkling**
Lincoln County Library District
P.O. Box 2027
Newport, OR 97365
Phone & Fax: 541-265-3066
Work email**: **diedre at lincolncolibrarydist.org*<diedre at lincolncolibrarydist.org>
Home email: **diedre08 at gmail.com* <diedre08 at gmail.com>

 "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change
your attitude."--Maya Angelou
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