Last week, Beth Yoke and I traveled to Washington DC to participate in National Library Legislative Day – a two–day advocacy event that brings hundreds of librarians, library supporters, and patrons to Washington, D.C. to meet with their members of Congress and to rally support for library issues and policies. This year, the ALA Washington Office asked NLLD attendees to focus conversations with their Congressional representatives and their staffs on three key issues:
- Reauthorization of the Museum and Library Services Act
- Full funding for the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL),for FY 2019
- Inviting representatives and their staff to visit their local libraries to see broadband access in action.
On Monday, after a full day of advocacy training, Beth and I attended a reception on Capitol Hill. Among the speakers were four teens who had been selected as the 2017 North Carolina Library Association Student Ambassadors. The teens spoke powerfully about how libraries have impacted their lives:
Libraries have personally impacted me in so many ways, including the opportunity to meet new people, learn new things and gain service and leadership skills. Alizdair Sebastien Ray
The library is a place where you can forget about reality and be present in the moment, where you can meet new people and develop new interests through the diverse programs it offers. Angelina Bayrak
It’s the perfect place to contemplate how we should handle our situations. Christina Haley Williams
One of the teens, Sam Kostiuk, created a video to share his experiences with libraries. Click here to view it.
In addition to attending ALA events, on Tuesday and Wednesday Beth and I met with representatives from the Department of Education (with AASL & ALSC), IMLS, the Afterschool Alliance, and the American Youth Policy Forum. Beth also met with the National Center for Cultural Competence. These meetings were productive and Beth has already begun to follow up on our conversations.
Thanks to all of the YALSA members who participated in NLLD either in person, virtually, or by coordinating events in their communities. Your advocacy efforts make a difference!
While participating in NLLD is important, we know that for libraries to be successful in our efforts to ensure federal funds and support for libraries, we need sustained, year round advocacy efforts. Read these 10+ ways you can take action and take a deep dive into all of the free advocacy tools and resources YALSA has on the web site.
Make sure to also reach out to your members of Congress during District Days – the time when they are back in their home districts. Invite them to come for a visit to the library and show them how you serve teens. Schedule a meeting with them at their local office to strengthen relations. YALSA has all sorts of free resources and tips to help you with this on the wiki.
Consider involving teens in your advocacy efforts like the NC Library Association did! Visit the Youth Activism through Community Engagement wiki page for resources to help you and the teens you work with engage with their communities and advocate for issues like funding for libraries.
By stepping up our advocacy efforts we can help make the world a better place for all teens!
YALSA President 2017-2018