EDITOR’S NOTE: Sen. Jill Tokuda, chair of the Senate Education Committee, offered these remarks today on the Senate floor to encourage her colleagues to support a bill that would allow non profits to support their local libraries.

BY SEN. JILL TOKUDA – As a result of much of the misinformation and mischaracterization surrounding these library bills, it appears this is a situation where not everyone will be happy, regardless of what we do.

So without restating all of the gory and legal details, this is the situation.

If we maintain the status quo, it will not be business as usual for anyone. Big Friends and their affiliates will be the only ones allowed on library facilities.  They will have exclusive rights of entry and any entity, regardless of if they are a 501c3 or how long they’ve supported a library, will not be allowed on property unless they are an affiliate.

If we maintain the status quo, the law must be followed…and as the attorney general and others have found, that has not been the case.

All funds raised through the use of these state funded facilities must go into the Friends of the Library Trust Fund.  There can be no diversion of funds into individual affiliate bank accounts.

While the statute is clear that only Friends affiliates are allowed to utilize library facilities, the Attorney General has recently opined that the law may be ambiguous as to whether or not the big friends may contract with non-affiliates to enter onto library property to conduct book sales and the like.  That being said, if the status quo is maintained, all funds from these non-affiliates must still go into the Friends of the Library Trust Fund.

There are many things that HB1054, SD1 does do-but let me highlight for you what it does not do.

Passing this bill does not close the door to the Big Friends and their affiliates.  In fact, it opens the door for all who want to support our libraries.

It does not take away the hard earned funds raised by supporters of our libraries. Rather, it creates an open and transparent process by which restricted grants and donations can be made for the exclusive use of specific libraries.

Passing this bill would not be adding to the bureaucracy and overburdening staff.  Rather, this bill will allow our library employees to exercise leadership and empower branch librarians to do what is best for their communities.

I understand that for many of you, this is not an easy decision.  That being said, I truly believe that if all who care about our libraries read the bill with open eyes, they will see clearly that all we want to do is support our public library system.