Mr. Kuntz Goes to Washington

Mr. Kuntz poses with Senator John Hoeven and 2 other librarians

By: Troy Kuntz
Elementary Library Media Specialist

"Democracy in Action." This is how Troy Kuntz, Elementary Library Media Specialist, described his recent trip to Washington, D.C. Mr. Kuntz was one of three representatives from North Dakota who attended Voices for Libraries 2024. This event invites library advocates from every state to travel to Washington, D.C. to speak with legislators about the importance of libraries and to advocate for their support. This year's team of North Dakota librarians included Mary Soucie, State Librarian; Tressa Graves, Librarian and Archivist at the Energy & Environmental Research Center (UND); and Troy Kuntz, Elementary Library Media Specialist (DPS). This is the first year the ND Library Association has invited a teacher librarian to join their team for the event. State Librarian Soucie stated, "The State Library supports libraries of all types. We are pleased to be able to partner with school libraries to support student's needs for information as well as personal enrichment. It was valuable to have the perspective of a teacher librarian to share with our legislators and their aides how federal funding directly supports information and cyber literacy."

Briefing Day - The team of North Dakota librarians joined others from across the United States at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C. The Briefing included presentations from seasoned advocates and policy experts. The delegation of librarians and library supporters learned about creating effective stories to share with lawmakers, held mock congressional meetings, and heard a keynote from librarian and influencer, Mychal Threets (@mychal3ts) about spreading library joy. In addition, the group had a chance to tour the newly renovated MLK Jr. Branch of the DC Public Library including Mr. Kuntz's highlight - a wooden slide that connects the children's reading room to a landing below, which he went down!

Mr. Kuntz poses in the Library of Congress Day of Action (Capitol Hill Day) - Before arriving in D.C., meetings were scheduled with the offices of Congressman Armstrong and Senators Cramer and Hoeven. The North Dakota Library Delegates spoke to three main points, federal funding for libraries, support for literacy, and broadband as a human right. The group discussed how LSTA (the Library Services and Technology Act) Grants received by the state support work being done by all North Dakota libraries. Mr. Kuntz spoke about how access to Online Library Resources (OLRs), provided by the state, enhances the library collections and allows students to access information through online databases like PebbleGo. Mr. Kuntz stated, "These databases are designed for our youngest students, featuring pictures, videos, sound clips, activities, and read-to-me capabilities. Watching our students become researchers through access to these databases is amazing. The amount of learning that can occur often exceeds even their teachers' and parents' expectations!" 

This, having been Mr. Kuntz's first trip to our Nation's Capital, was a memorable experience. Kuntz stated, "It was a perfect balance of work and pleasure. Every minute I was not working or in meetings, I was taking in as much of the sights that Washington, D.C. has to offer." Kuntz's highlights included a Monuments by Moonlight tour and visiting the Library of Congress, where he received his library card. "A huge thank you goes out to the North Dakota State Library, the North Dakota Library Association, and to the Dickinson Public Schools for allowing me to attend this event. It is through collaborations like this that we can ensure that our students have access to current and relevant information while harnessing the educational support of local, state, and national leaders."