The Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), presented the 2012 Public Service Award to Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) at the Dirksen Senate Office Building during National Library Legislative Day activities in Washington, D.C., on April 23.
In Congress, Rep. Holt has introduced the Workforce Investments through Local Libraries (WILL) Act to integrate libraries into job training efforts, a bill that was endorsed by ALA. Along with Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), he introduced the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLS) Act, which would establish a goal of having not less than one highly qualified school librarian in each public school. In addition, it proposes to increase student academic achievement through strategies such as improving teacher, school librarian and principal quality and increasing the number of highly qualified teachers in the classroom, highly qualified school librarians and highly qualified principals and assistant principals in schools.
On his website, Rep. Holt writes, “America’s libraries are more widely used today than at any other point in history, with more than three quarters of Americans having visited a library in the last year. Yet these are trying times for libraries. Even as libraries have lost funding from towns, counties and states, they have experienced a surge in demand due to the millions of Americans looking for jobs and finding them using library services … The demand is not just for computers, but also for qualified librarians who can offer guidance on how to set-up an e-mail account, use resume formats and file an online job application or unemployment claim.”
Rep. Rush Holt has represented Central New Jersey in Congress since 1999. From 1989 until he launched his 1998 congressional campaign, Holt was assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Rep. Holt serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Natural Resources. From 2007 to 2010, he was the chairman of the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel. As a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, he helped write the College Cost Reduction Act, the largest college aid expansion since the GI Bill.
The Public Service Award is given annually by ALTAFF to a legislator who has been especially supportive of libraries. The first award was presented in 1989 to Congressman Major Owens (D-NY), the only librarian serving in Congress. Other awardees include Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Representative Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), and Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ). For more information about the award, visit www.ala.org/altaff/grants_awards/public_service.
ALTAFF is a division of the American Library Association that supports citizens who govern, promote, advocate, and fundraise for libraries. ALTAFF brings together library Trustees, advocates, Friends, and Foundations into a partnership that creates a powerful force for libraries in the 21st century. For more information, visit www.ala.org/altaff, or contact Jillian Kalonick at (312) 280-2161 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: ALTAFF Executive Director Sally Gardner Reed (left) and ALTAFF President Donna McDonald present Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) with the 2012 Public Service Award.