Like so many at this year’s ALA Annual, I took advantage of being in DC to play a part in Library Advocacy Day. Although ALA’s own press office was there recording and taking photos, I thought I’d mention some of the highlights related to Teens and Teen Services and share some of the photos I took this morning.
I arrived at Upper Senate Park about 10:30 A.M., 30 minutes before start time, and found a good number of people already there. I found advocates representing every state in the U.S., and I even talked to a few from other countries who were just there to lend their support to the cause. A number of groups brought teens and younger children with them, which I’m sure made a strong impression as well. While I certainly didn’t conduct a scientific poll of any kind, it seemed like there was overwhelming representation from school libraries out of the few dozen people I talked to.
Of course, YALSA had a formal presence there. Past President Paula Brehm-Heeger arrived in force, leading the charge with others in Team Yalsa.
The event started a few minutes early with YA author Lauren Myracle (see photo below)—who was introduced by ALA President Camila Alire as this year’s most banned author—-warming up the crowd with a reading from her new book Luv Ya Bunches. Although it was silly and fun hearing about a revolt in high school against Cheese Nips, there was a nice enough connection to the rally you can tell Myracle put some thought into what she chose to read. Myracle spoke again later in the program, sharing some personal anecdotes of how libraries helped her writing career as well as reading email from her fans highlighting how important libraries are to them.
Both Senator Jack Reed (RI) (see photo below) and Congressman Vern Ehlers (MI-03) delivered short speeches on the importance of libraries, a topic they were obviously passionate about. Although they spoke in general terms, both highlighted the importance of school libraries and the role they play in secondary education. Both also stressed the importance of actively reaching out to local and federal politicians to make sure they are aware of the vital role libraries play in the lives of their constituents every day.
After some inspirational cheerleading from President Alire, the crowd broke into smaller groups and struck out for their meetings with their congressional representatives. If you’re like me and your representative chose not to meet with you—-or you just weren’t able to make Library Advocacy Day at all—-ALA has provided a wealth of tips and resources on their Capwhiz site so you can reach out to your representatives from home. Likewise, YALSA’s Advocacy Wiki hosts a number of further options tailored more to those who serve teens. Lastly, no matter what tools you use please share your stories with the library community by posting to Twitter with the hastag #LAD2010. You never know how your own experiences might help and inspire others.