Federal funds for public libraries & e-democracy

Public library types — celebrate Sunshine Week and Freedom of Information Day by taking a few minutes to read this recent article about potential federal funding for public libraries involved in e-democracy and access to federal goverment information. http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6417238.html

FOI Rapid Response Team

Brechner gift will aid FOI

From a story in University of Florida News

GAINESVILLE, FL — Marion Brechner recently gave $100,000 to the University of Florida for a joint project with the National Freedom of Information Coalition.

The Joseph L. Brechner Center for Freedom of Information and the Marion Brechner Citizen Access Project will receive $50,000 each to hold a 30th annniversary celebration and to work with NFOIC in developing a response apparatus to proposed anti-access legislation, respectively.

The response project is creating FOI 911—a Rapid Response Team designed to provide information to FOI activists fighting legislation that would limit access to records and meetings that should be public. Graduate students at the University of Florida and NFOIC headquarters in Columbia, Missouri, will field calls and emails about state laws relevant to proposed anti-access legislation.

“We’ve long lacked a responsive mechanism for proposed legislative exemptions, and this gift allows us to begin the process of building such a system,” said Professor Charles Davis, Executive Director of NFOIC. “This gives us the resources we need to level the playing field a bit in the interest of openness.”

When a new exemption is proposed, the students will look at all the other state laws for model legislative language, and will look for examples of how the records in question have served the public interest. “Talking points” memos on the proposals will then be distributed to state FOI groups for their use.

“When citizens fighting to protect access to public documents are facing well-financed lobby groups wanting to keep specific records from the public, the pro-access interests usually have limited places to find the information they need for the legislative fight ahead,” said Bill Chamberlin, the project’s director. “This initiative will enable anyone with a major interest in protecting public access to have a chance to get the information they need about what other states are doing.”

FOIA Report Issued, Hearing Scheduled

AAN Staff

The Congressional Research Service issued a new report (PDF) last week on the history of the Freedom of Information Act and related legislative reform efforts. Meanwhile, the newly formed House Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, Feb. 15, on a FOIA reform bill that is supported by AAN and the other members of the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a Washington-based coalition of media organizations committed to promoting open-government policies.

Nominations needed for the James Madison Award and the Eileen Cooke State & Local Madison Award

Nominations needed for the James Madison Award and the Eileen Cooke State & Local Madison Award! Each year, on Freedom of Information Day, the Madison Awards are presented by ALA to recognize those individuals or groups that have championed, protected, and promoted public access to government information and the public’s right to know. (Learn more)
Program Length
6 minutes, 19 seconds
In order to listen, all you need to do is make sure you have speakers or headphones plugged in and click the “play” button you see below.

FOI Day 2007 in DC Moved to National Press Club

The 2007 National FOI Day Conference will be held as usual this year on March 16. The venue for this year’s event will change, however, from the rooftop conference center at the Freedom Forum in Arlington to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The conference brings together access advocates, government officials, lawyers, librarians, journalists, educators and others to discuss the latest issues and developments in access to government information and the public’s right to know.

The ninth annual FOI Day Conference is sponsored by the First Amendment Center. Sunshine Week will co-sponsor the event, which will be held in cooperation with the American Library Association, OpenTheGovernment.org and the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government.

More than a dozen nationally known speakers and presenters will appear on the program, and the agenda will include discussions of government secrecy, publication of classified information and access priorities for the coming year. The American Library Association will present its annual James Madison Awards, and new reports and publications will be released.

As the conference agenda is finalized, program details will be announced on the First Amendment Center Web site:www.firstamendmentcenter.org.

The conference begins at 8:30 a.m. and concludes by 2:30 p.m. There is no charge to attend, but because there is somewhat limited space, participants must register individually in advance.

To register for the 2007 National FOI Day Conference:

Send an email to foidayconference@freedomforum.org.
Or call 703/284-2805 and leave a message.

When registering, please provide your name, title, affiliation and contact information and let us know whether you will be attending the lunch.

Paul McMasters & Ronald K.L. Collins
Freedom Forum First Amendment Center