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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#FundLibraries: Advocacy Season is Upon Us & We Need YOU!

The proposed White House budget for FY19 that was released February 12, 2018 calls for eliminating federal funds for libraries and the Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS), the only federal agency charged with providing support to the nation’s hundreds of thousands of libraries and museums. Now it’s up to Congress to decide whether or not they want to change that.  ALA and YALSA need your help to ensure that IMLS and federal funds for libraries are saved, because without libraries teens will not have the resources and support they need to succeed in school and prepare for college, careers, and life.  Here’s what you can do right now:

  1. Send an email or Tweet to your members of Congress.  ALA has ready-to-use messages waiting for you in their Action Center.
  2. Sign up via the ALA site to receive action alerts so you can easily email or call the offices of your Congress members at critical times during the budget process between now and Sept.
  3. Read and subscribe to District Dispatch, the ALA Washington Office’s blog, to stay up to date on the issues.
  4. Encourage your library users to share their stories about what their local library means to them.  ALA will use these with their advocacy efforts.  Direct patrons to this quick and easy form.
  5. Brush up on your advocacy knowledge and skills by checking out the resources on ALA’s shiny, new ala.org/fund-libraries site and YALSA’s web site.
  6. Sign up to participate in National Library Legislative Day on May 8, online, at your library, or in Washington DC, and check out YALSA’s NLLD resources.
  7. Connect with your members of Congress when they’re in their home districts to keep them informed about the many ways the library helps community members.  Congress is typically not in session the week of a national holiday, like Presidents’ Day.  Schedule a meeting at their local office, and/or invite them to your library.  YALSA has free resources and tips to make this an easy task!
  8. Join YALSA, or make a donation, because together we’re stronger.  YALSA’s the only national organization that focuses its support and advocacy on teen library services. Dues start at $63 per year.  Your support will build our capacity to advocate for teens and libraries.
  9. Encourage your patrons, advocates groups, friends, family, and colleagues to do the above as well.

Don’t know much about IMLS?  Here’s a quick overview: through IMLS, every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. territories receive funding to support their state or territory’s libraries and museums.  In FY17 the total funding IMLS distributed to states and territories was $156,103,000.  In addition, IMLS offers competitive grant opportunities that individual libraries and museums can apply for.  In FY17 they awarded competitive grants to libraries and library-supporting institutions totaling more than $27,469,000.  Visit the IMLS site to see how much funding your state receives from them.

Want to take further action to support teens and libraries?  We salute you!  Check out the free online resources we have to make speaking up for teens and libraries easy.

Speaking up for teens & libraries during the federal budgeting process

Each year the federal budgeting process kicks off when the White House releases a draft budget.  This will happen sometime in February, and there’s talk that the FY19 draft budget may be released on February 12, 2018.  If you recall last year, the White House’s draft budget called for the elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as well as all of the federally earmarked funds that the nation’s libraries depend on to provide critical services to their community.    However, a grassroots advocacy effort led Congress to keep funding for IMLS and libraries for FY18.

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I Love My Librarian Award Spotlight: Sheikla Blount

I recently had the opportunity to talk to Sheikla Blount, library media specialist at Columbiana Middle School in Columbiana, Alabama. Ms. Blount was recently named one of the recipients of the I Love My Librarian Award.  The award is a collaborative program of Carnegie Corporation of New York, the New York Public Library, The New York Times and the American Library Association.  A graduate of Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama, Sheikla clearly has a passion for libraries and children. She’s involved in the middle school, even outside the library, and the sponsor for the Junior United Nations Assembly and yearbook club. Continue reading