If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu – National Library Legislative Day 2018

I became a certified school librarian in 2006.  I spent my early years teaching in school libraries learning the job, honing my craft, attending professional development and reading copious amounts of children’s and young adult literature. The ongoing pursuit of these efforts was to improve my instructional practice, to get better and to grow as a librarian.

I spent countless hours reviewing journal articles about literacy, reading comprehension and instructional strategies. I read online posts from other librarians, reading teachers and classroom teachers. I studied best practices around research and inquiry. I pored over information literacy standards, reading standards and technology standards. I lurked on Twitter and compiled lists of relevant educational and library hashtags. I began posting some of my own educational content. I began teaching professional development coursework and presenting to my peers in-district and at conferences.

After several years of reflective teaching and librarianship, I finally feel confident and comfortable in my skin as a school librarian and professional. What’s next on the horizon? What next steps make the most career sense? What will allow me to continue this valuable work?  Some of these bigger picture questions were answered after I decided after many years to become a member of the New York Library Association (NYLA) in 2015. I waited too long to become a member. This was a mistake.

NYLA is our statewide library association dedicated to advocating on behalf of all libraries in the state directly to our state legislature. This organization is doing the hard work of library advocacy full-time, every day, year after year for all types of libraries: school, public, academic, etc. I was so busy doing the intense work of school librarianship that I left library advocacy to others. This was a another mistake.

A recent article in Education Week indicates that, “The nation’s public school districts have lost 20 percent of their librarians and media specialists since 2000, from more than 54,000 to less than 44,000 in 2015.” While I was too busy doing this important library work, school libraries were on the chopping block and I didn’t know. This ignorance was another mistake. 

Abandoning library advocacy ‘to others’ is a bad idea. Waiting to join the New York Library Association so late in my career was a bad idea.  For more time than I care to admit, I was unclear about NYLA’s role. I wasn’t sure what NYLA actually did or why. I am now attempting to make up for lost time by engaging in vital library advocacy efforts.

My first event was to attend Library Advocacy Day as part of NYLA’s local Albany delegation. I chaperoned a field trip with a dozen high school students from Albany High to the state capitol in Albany, NY. Students attending this trip were members of Albany High School’s Book Lovers’ Club. Several appointments were made with local elected officials in advance to discuss library funding in our state.

Our elected officials listened intently to their teenage constituents as students shared meaningful dialogue about the value of libraries in their schools and communities. It was a powerful lesson in civic participation and engagement for both students and adults. This will be an annual field trip moving forward for Albany High School students. This positive experience encouraged me to apply for the YALSA travel stipend to attend National Library Legislative Day in our nation’s capital. 

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National Library Legislative Day 2018

Colleagues-

Last week, Beth Yoke and I traveled to Washington DC to participate in National Library Legislative Day – a twoday 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:

  1. Reauthorization of the Museum and Library Services Act
  2. Full funding for the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL),for FY 2019
  3. 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!

-Sandra Hughes-Hassell
YALSA President 2017-2018

Get Involved: Join the Financial Advancement Committee

YALSA is currently looking for members to join the Financial Advancement Committee.  What is FAC? This committee is tasked with the important job of working with the Board to implement virtual fundraising campaigns and fundraising efforts at conferences, aimed at both members and nonmembers, to support the $19,595 worth of scholarships and stipends YALSA gives out annually.

Being on FAC is a one year commitment and conference attendance is not required. FAC members work together virtually to plan and promote fundraisers throughout the year, focusing on different scholarships and stipends as we go along. For example, we are currently raising money for a National Library Legislative Day travel stipend, so YALSA can send members to Washington D.C. to advocate for teen services. We also raise money for other grants and awards that don’t have corporate sponsors, such as YALSA’s Spectrum Scholar, an Emerging Leader, a Board Fellow and a Midwinter Paper Presentation.

When FAC isn’t working on fundraising, we spend time contributing content to the YALSA Blog, helping members and non-members understand the long-term value of YALSA’s mission and work and we periodically update and promote YALSA’s Fundraising Toolkit. FAC also makes sure to thank all of the generous donors that give to YALSA.

Don’t have any experience fundraising? Don’t let that stop you! All you need is the ability to work virtually, creativity and a passion for YALSA’s mission! Being on FAC this year has been a very rewarding experience, and I hope you will join me in July for another great year.

If you think you would be a good fit for this exciting committee, please contact YALSA President-Elect Crystle Martin at crystle.martin@gmail.com

Preparing for National Library Legislative Day

I’m getting ready to head to Washington D.C. for National Library Legislative Day on May 7 and 8. And that means more than just watching reruns of Parks and Rec and Veep! It means taking the time to prepare for the conversations we will have with representatives to advocate for libraries. You don’t have to be in Washington in May to advocate for libraries, you can call and email your representatives, too!  Register via the ALA site (it’s free) and they’ll send you free resources so you can easily participate from home. Here are some great tips from a recent NLLD webinar:

Know Your Audience

Create a legislator profile for the person you are contacting. Know their committee assignments, their history on library support and funding and try to find a personal connection if you can (you both have young kids, you both went to University of Pawnee, they are the caretaker of an aging parent). Whether you are talking to your elected official or their staff, this shows that you took the time to prepare and you really care! Continue reading

Countdown to National Library Legislative Day

National Library Legislative Day is one month away. Are you ready for it?

On May 8, library staff and advocates from around the country will descend upon Capitol Hill to speak with our legislators about the impact of libraries on the communities and teens we serve. We are the experts on library services for and with teens and our legislators want to learn from us!

Most of us cannot make it to Washington DC, but do not fret!  You can participate in National Library Legislative Day in a variety of ways. Some members will meet with state and local legislators at state capitols, city halls, county seats, and on our home library turf. Others will engage with legislators through email and social media. You can (and are encouraged to) get teens and other library users involved too.

Successful advocacy happens year-round, but a concerted effort, like that on National Library Legislation Day, amplifies advocate voices. If you’ve never participated in Library advocacy before, National Library Legislation Day is a great time to start. If you are an advocacy-pro, set the example for our less-seasoned advocates. We would also love to hear from you and share your advocacy success stories and tips.

Anyone can participate in National Library Legislative Day, and YALSA has the tools to support you.

Here some quick start steps.

  1. Let ALA know you are participating. Don’t forget that anyone can participate! You do not need to travel to Washington DC.
  2. Check out YALSA’s National Library Legislation Day tools.
  3. Select which way(s) you will engage in advocacy on and around May 8.
  4. Tell your professional and personal networks what you’re up to. Encourage them to join you!
  5. Keep the momentum going! District Days are right around the corner and your local, state, and national legislators want and need to hear from you year-round.

What will I be doing on National Library Legislative Day? I’ll be engaging in advocacy at the most local level. May 8 also happens to be an election day in Ohio and I’m taking the day off of work to campaign at the polls in support of our local public library’s levy issue.

Comment below to let us know how you plan to celebrate and advocate on National Library Legislative Day!

 

Jennifer Korn is the manager of the Pleasant Ridge Branch of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

“Celebrate Yourself” during National Library Week

Library staff in school and public libraries are incredible! In your library, it can be easy to feel like you are a one person force of nature. Developing the library program and keeping up with day-to-day duties can be exhausting. Sometimes it feels like National Library Week is just “one more thing” to added to our to-do pile.

We have to remember that many of our community partners and non-library colleagues have a lot going on in their world and may not be aware that it’s National Library Week. If you don’t celebrate yourself, it can’t be guaranteed that others will be celebrating you.


How to celebrate National Library Week in simple ways:

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Contact Your Senators & Ask Them to #FundLibraries!

In March ALA asked advocates to contact their Rep in the House to support library funding.  Now, it’s the Senate’s turn!  ALA is circulating one letter in support of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and one for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program.  ALA is also maintaining a list of Senators who have signed.  Please take a moment to find out if your Senator has signed, and email their office via this quick form if not.  You can also Tweet or call. Then help spread the word by encouraging others to do the same!   It’s important that this a large, grassroots effort–Congress is only moved to action when they are inundated with calls, emails, Tweets, etc. from voters like you.

For other simple ways you can take action to support libraries and teens, read this earlier blog post.   And follow the action on social media via #FundLibraries.  Thank you!

-Beth Yoke

P.S. Stay up to date on federal funds for libraries via ALA’s District Dispatch blog

Contact Your Rep’s Office by 3/19 to Save Library Funding

We are coming up on the deadline for Congressional Representatives to sign this year’s letters in support of federal library funding.  As you probably know, the White House budget for the coming fiscal year removed all federal funds for libraries, so it’s up to us to tell Congress to put the funds back in.  Right now, one letter is circulating in support of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and one for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program.

As an update, we currently have 84 signatures on LSTA, and 49 for IAL. Last year, we were able to get over 140 signatures for both letters. We can do it again, but we need your help!

With the deadline coming up – March 19th! – I’d like to ask your help in getting the word out about this campaign. ALA is maintaining a list of Reps who have signed at ala.org/fundlibraries. Please take a moment today to find out if your Rep has signed, and email their office via this quick form if not.   You can also Tweet or call.  And then help us spread the word by encouraging others to do the same!   If they have signed, send them a quick thanks.

-Beth Yoke

P.S. Stay up to date on federal funds for libraries via ALA’s District Dispatch blog

ALSC’s Everyday Advocacy

Recently I made my way up to New York’s Capitol Building in Albany to “storm the castle” if you will with my fellow New York Library advocates. Every year, library workers and supporters travel caravan style from all over the state to share why libraries are important. We are at the ready with stats, numbers, stories, and anything else that can show our local representatives why we are essential to our communities and how we need them to stick up for our budget. Of course this is New York budget and only one day a year. While it is indeed powerful to see a building full of library supporters chanting “We! Love! Libraries!” in matching hats and hearing stories from representatives about how libraries have changed their lives this is only one rally in one state on one day, what can we do the other 364 days of the year?

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All About Advocacy: A Trio of March Snack Breaks

Advocacy is something that library staff working with teens sometimes find difficult to take on. It can seem scary. It can seem time consuming. It can seem like something that someone else can do. However, advocating for the value of library teen services and the value of supporting the successful growth and development of teens is something that every library staff member needs to take on. As a way to help library staff understand some of the ins and outs of advocating for and with teens, YALSA just added three new Snack Break videos on that topic.

One way to get started with advocacy work is through engaging teens in activities that help them gain advocacy skills. In the video below, Jane Gov, Youth Services Librarian, Pasadena (CA) Public Library, provides tips on how to do just that.
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