Friday, February 10, 2006

Hill Country Librarians' Conference

About 150 school librarians and staff attended today's Hill Country Librarians Conference at Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville, Texas. I was fortunate to serve as facilitator for the general session, "No Library Left Behind: Legislation, Libraries and the 65% Rule." My role was to present and field questions to State Representative (Democrat) Mark Strama. The Conference organizers provided a mother lode of questions from the biographical (What experiences in your life led you to run for the state house of representatives?), personal (How do you use libraries today?), to the political. Key questions asked whether he had been lobbied by representatives of First Class Education, the organization behind the 65 percent solution school funding model, to the impact of a merit pay system for schools, state funding for TexShare databases access for schools, and the possibility of a special session on school finance. While he is a strong advocate for education and the role that libraries can play, it was obvious that librarians need to be diligent in continuously educating elected representatives. We all vowed to send Representative Strama information on these issues. While a tech savvy person, we learned that Strama still can learn more about the realm of library resources, especially databases. Voters in Strama's district are fortunate; he holds open meetings for the public on Tuesday evenings and on Saturdays. He even provides child care services for children under six so their parents can participate. Representative Stama congratulated us on holding our upcoming ALA annual conference in New Orleans.