Jefferson City, Mo. — Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft welcomed library staff and advocates last week for Missouri Library Advocacy Day at the secretary of state’s office.
Missouri Library Advocacy Day is an annual event that connects library staff and advocates with state representatives and senators to discuss the importance of libraries and the contributions they bring to the lives of Missourians.
“Library Advocacy Day is an important day for our state’s libraries and their patrons,” Ashcroft said. “In face-to-face conversations with Missouri lawmakers, library advocates can provide valuable information about their programs and services, and highlight how important state aid is to providing those resources.”
State funding for Missouri’s public libraries, which had a total of 48.9 million in-person and online visits last year, has been cut 42 percent since FY2010. In addition, libraries continue to receive just 20 percent of the funding required by state law in regard to the Athletes and Entertainers tax.
“The library of 2019 contains workforce development centers, makerspaces, health and wellness classes and technology training,” State Librarian Robin Westphal said. “Library Advocacy Day is a great way for library cheerleaders to tell their stories to legislators. We all have to stop thinking of libraries as just book warehouses and realize that libraries can and should be community hubs.”
Ashcroft and Westphal spoke at the event, along with Missouri Library Association (MLA) Past-President April Roy, MLA Legislative Advocate Randy Scherr and MLA Legislative Committee Chair Dan Brower.
Library staff and advocates met in the morning to speak at the secretary’s office before heading to the Capitol to speak with legislators in the afternoon.
Ashcroft recently spoke in front of the Missouri House Budget Committee to advocate for libraries and encourage an increase in state library funding.
The State Library supports libraries statewide through continuing education programs and the development of services, activities and resource-sharing among Missouri’s libraries. For more information on the library development work done by the State Library, visit www.sos.mo.gov/library.