Yesterday I was in Washington, D.C. with hundreds of other librarians for National Library Legislative Day.’ It was inspiring to see so many people come out for this event (I saw some familiar YALSA faces there with their state delegations.)’ As it was my first time at this event I was a bit unsure what to expect.’ Since we talk a lot about a barrier to advocacy being lack of confidence, I thought you might like to know a bit about what it was like.
On Monday participants met in a hotel for briefings and sessions designed to inform us on the hot issues of the year, and prepare us for our meetings.’ Meetings with various congressional staffers had been set up in advance by the ALA Washington Office.’ The YALSA group (which included myself, President-Elect Linda Braun, and Executive Director Beth Yoke) shared these meetings with the representatives from ALSC and AASL.’ The meetings were in the various House and Senate Office Buildings on Capitol Hill.’ At each meeting we explained who we were and what issues we wanted them to be aware of.’ I spoke about LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) funding and the need to have this funded at $100 million dollars.’ (This act is up for reauthorization this year .)’ I used examples of how those funds help libraries (online databases purchased through state libraries, New Jersey’s Library for the Blind and Handicapped) to state my case.
At the end of the day I was certainly tired, but I felt inspired by being a part of such advocacy.’ When you are in those buildings you are immediately aware that as a citizen you have the absolute right to be there, to talk to your representatives, and let them know what matters to you.’ Leg Day is one day a year, but remember that there are plenty of opportunities and ways for you to be an advocate for youth and libraries.
Sarah Cornish Debraski