So, at some point in February, I decided that I would apply for YALSA’s travel stipend to attend #NLLD15. I was hopeful and I received the award. So, I planned my trip, contacted my state coordinator, packed my bag, and was off to Washington.
I arrived at 12:30 on Sunday at Ronald Reagan International Airport. I took Southwest and was able to get a pretty economical ticket. I found my way to the METRO station, purchased a Smart Ride Card, and hopped on the Metro toward Dupont Circle. I was on my way to the First Time Attendee Session at the ALA Washington Office.
I stopped for a quick photo on Dupont Circle. I think Annette Bening made a bigger deal out of it in the “America President” than it was. Three quick blocks and I stopped at Kramer Books & Afterwords Café for Lunch. They have an amazing brunch/luncheon menu on Sundays and it is a restaurant attached to a bookstore. Nirvana! I had the crab cake open faced sandwich. ( I found it on Urban Spoon.)
After lunch, I walked the 2 blocks to the ALA Washington Office.
The meeting for first time attendees was amazing. We worked on techniques for speaking with Senators and Representatives. We talked about “the ask”. I even managed to take a selfie with the presenter, Stephanie Vance.
The training was inspiring. We had the opportunity to meet other librarians and media specialists from across the country.
I headed back to the host hotel after the meeting to meet up with my state delegation for dinner. We went to a local restaurant and talked about our goals and appointments for the next day. Oops! I was supposed to make some appointments!
The next morning, we had a full day of sessions on the different issues and pieces of legislation affecting libraries at the host hotel. Our state coordinator found a few minutes to have a pastry.
Since, I hadn’t made any appointments the day before, I took the list of representatives that were not yet contacted from Florida and made some calls to set up appointments with their staffers. I managed to contact all but two and schedule appointments throughout the next day.
In the evening, we attended a reception for library staff at the Dirksen Building, where some of the Senate Committees meet. I met the YALSA President and the Director and we were photobombed during a selfie. I also managed to photobomb the President of ALA during a speech to the delegates.
After a quick breakfast the next morning, we were off to the Capitol to visit and discuss the issues. As usual Southern charm rules and the Florida delegation was warmly received by the staffers of our Representatives and Senators. Our delivery was professional and I believe our message was heard. I was encouraged that most were interested in us because we were their constituents in the districts.
It was an interesting experience that I would love to have the chance to repeat.
After a quick bite in the underground cafeteria, I was off to the METRO for one last ride to the Airport. Thank you, YALSA for the opportunity to #act4teens and represent the interests of Florida libraries in Washington, and thank you Friends of YALSA for funding this opportunity! If you'd like to be the recipient of this travel grant for 2016, apply online by Feb. 1, 2016.
Vandy Pacetti-Donelson is a Library Media Specialist. She is a library advocate and board member for the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME). Find her online at www.eliterateandlevelingup.com or follow her on Twitter @VandyPD.