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
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.
- Let ALA know you are participating. Don’t forget that anyone can participate! You do not need to travel to Washington DC.
- Check out YALSA’s National Library Legislation Day tools.
- Select which way(s) you will engage in advocacy on and around May 8.
- Tell your professional and personal networks what you’re up to. Encourage them to join you!
- 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.
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:
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!
P.S. Stay up to date on federal funds for libraries via ALA’s District Dispatch blog
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.
P.S. Stay up to date on federal funds for libraries via ALA’s District Dispatch blog
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?
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.
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.
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