Now that District Days are in full swing and you have hopefully reached out to your representative, we wanted to provide some resources for you that will help you in your planning! And if you haven’t reached out yet, there’s still time. We hope that these resources will provide some inspiration.

These handouts from YALSA are a great starting point when talk to your representative about libraries and teen services for libraries are not only important but necessary.

What public libraries do for teens..

Why teens need libraries

YALSA’s Legislative Advocacy Guide

LSTA fact sheets from ALA

Then take a look at YALSA’s wiki page on advocating for more links and resources.

Don’t forget to use one of your best resources that you have, your teens! If you have a Teen Advisory Board then talk to them and see if they have ideas.  

And just remember, you don’t have to do something big for District Days. The most important thing is that you reach out to your representative and #act4teens!

Staci Terrell is the Children's Services Manager at Anderson Public Library in Anderson, Indiana and is the current chair of the YALSA Legislation Committee.

It’s time for District Days once again, which are when congressional representatives return home to their districts on recess. The recess this year is from August 1-September 6. This is the time representatives will have office hours at their local offices, attend town hall meetings, and meet with constituents to speak with and listen to them.

As an advocate for libraries and teens, this is an opportunity to show your representatives why libraries are a valuable asset to their constituents and districts. District Days provide you the ability to let your voice as a librarian or library worker be heard before the representatives head back to Washington, D.C.

Need help getting started? Check out the great resources on the District Days wiki and look for posts on the YALSAblog throughout August for information on how to participate by the Legislation Committee. One simple way is to make sure you use this  #act4teens hashtag when you promote your District Days activities.

Need to find out who your congressional representative is for your district? Or their local district offices? There's a website and an app for that!

Some things to keep in mind, as you start to prepare for District Days.

  1. Keep it simple. You don't have to create an event just for your congressional representative to attend. Invite them to a teen program, such as a summer learning wrap up party or Back to School night.
  2. Include the event details. Date, time, location, whether or not press will be invited, a description of the event, plus estimated attendance and who will be attending the event.
  3. Provide information about your library. Key statistics, demographics, etc. but keep it concise.
  4. Make sure to publicize the event! Send information to local news outlets along with using social media.
  5. Follow up after the invitation is sent. Call them a week after it's sent, if you haven't heard back from them.
  6. If they can't make it, then try going to them. Contact their local office to schedule an appointment, while they are at home in their district.
  7. Send a thank you note. Once the event is over, don't forget to thank your representative for taking the time to visit your library!

For additional advocacy resources, visit www.ala.org/yalsa/advocacy

Staci Terrell is the Children's Services Manager at Anderson Public Library in Anderson, Indiana and is the current chair of the YALSA Legislation Committee.

You work hard all summer to provide teens with a variety of activities to help them learn and grow.  But chances are, your elected officials do not know about the great work you do and what it means to teens and to the community.  So, it's up to you to show them!  Elected officials need to know about the vital role libraries play in helping teens succeed in school and prepare for college, careers and life.  Without this knowledge, they will not be able to make informed decisions regarding key pieces of legislation, such as the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or the Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA).  District Days--the time when members of Congress are back in their home states--are the perfect chance for you to show off all the great things you do for and with teens through your library, by inviting your Congressperson to come and visit any time between Aug. 1 and Sept. 6, 2015.  You could also bring your teen patrons to them at their local office.  YALSA's wiki page has everything you need to extend your invitation, plan for a visit, and be a great host!  Your teens are relying on you to speak up for them, so be sure to seize this opportunity.  Then, tell us how it goes by sending photos and information using the #act4teens hashtag.

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.

dupont circleI 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.)ala office

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.

Working on your asking skillsThe 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.Florida delegationCharlie takes a break

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.

YALSA prez director and me           Working on my testifying

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.

office visit1

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.

Grand Central Station           Metro seal

 

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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.

Has it crossed your radar yet that there's been a big shift in how laws are getting made?  Last year state legislatures around the country passed 45,564 bills, compared with just 352 passed in Congress.  That works out to an average of 911 bills per state.  This change in the way laws are getting made means that we need to change the way we advocate for teens and libraries.  Spring is the time of year when many state legislatures are in session.  What can you (or your teen patrons) do to call their attention to the importance of libraries?  YALSA has the answer!  We have everything you need to reach out to your state legislators and ask them if they will sponsor a resolution in support of libraries.  A resolution is not legislation or a bill--just a feel good message about libraries.  Both Congress and state legislatures pass these types of warm fuzzies all of the time in an effort to make nice with the voters.  YALSA has a few sample documents compiled into one file that you can adapt and use, including a sample resolution, emails and a press release.  Access the MS Word file today for an easy way to raise awareness about libraries with the elected officials in your state!
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Please email or phone your members of Congress and ask them to sign the "Dear Appropriator letter supporting library funding via these two programs: LSTA (Library Services Technology Act) and IAL (Innovative Approaches to Literacy)."  Then, ask all other library supporters you know to do the same by no later than March 20th.  Contact information for Congress members is here: http://cqrcengage.com/ala/home (just put in your zip code in the box on the lower right side).

To see whether your Members of Congress signed these letters last year, view the FY 2015 Funding Letter Signees document (pdf). If so, please be sure to thank and remind them of that when you email or call!  More information can be found on ALA's blog, District Dispatch.  For more information about LSTA, check out this document LSTA Background and Ask (pdf).  For more information on IAL, view School Libraries Brief (pdf)

Thank you for taking this step to ensure that our nation's teens continue to have access to library staff and services that will help them succeed in school and prepare for college and careers!

-Beth Yoke

Happy Monday, amazing YALSA members!

Can you believe it's already near the end of February?

For those who've made New Year's resolutions to be more involved in the profession, it's not too late!

The deadline to apply to join a YALSA strategic committee, jury, or taskforce is this Sunday, March 1st!

You can see the full list of committees and juries here.

Strategic committees are a great way to get involved with YALSA, as they are virtual committees. Or, if you are a new member and looking to try committee work for the first time, the strategic committees are a great way to learn about YALSA, connect with teen service professionals from around the country, and help you develop your virtual work skills and teen expertise. So, if travel and conference attendance aren't an option for you this year, please take a minute to fill out the volunteer form here and send it in before March 1st!

My Appointments Taskforce and I will begin the process to fill the over 200 open positions that help YALSA accomplish the work of the strategic plan and the work that moves the association and members forward immediately after March 1st, so please be sure to get your application in before then.

I strongly encourage all YALSA members to apply - it is an easy and great way to get more involved in this amazing association, especially if you are interested in joining a YALSA selection or award committee in the future.

Please feel free to contact me at candice.yalsa (at) gmail.com if you have any questions!

Giving Tuesday helps non-profits around the globe by bringing awareness to the importance of giving back and donating to a cause. This year will be YALSA’s third year in participating, and the Financial Advancement Committee’s (FAC) goal is to raise at least $4000 to send four...yes FOUR...YALSA members to National Library Legislative Day in Spring 2015. Financial Advancement chair Jack Martin (JM) and veteran member Melissa McBride (MM) interviewed each other below about the importance of giving to YALSA and having a strong presence at Library Legislative Day.  You can help us NOW by signing on to a Thunderclap that will be released on Giving Tuesday as a means of spreading the word about our fundraising goal.

JM: Melissa, this is FAC’s third year participating in Giving Tuesday, right? What the response been like in the past?

MM: Yes, although this is only my second year participating. The response last year was wonderful, as a committee member it was so great seeing all the support for both the Thunderclap and the donations that came in on Giving Tuesday. We far exceeded our expectations and were able to send additional members to Legislative Day.

JM: I love hearing about this great response. I think our members truly understand the importance of Library Legislative Day, and they know how much of an impact it makes to have YALSA members there to rep our awesome association!

MM: As a Past President of YALSA, what does it mean for you to see such support from the members of YALSA?

JM: For me, it’s all about advocacy. I think it’s easy for us to see our members being activists by physically representing YALSA at Library Legislative Day. What I think is harder to sometimes see but even more important are those activists who are giving to YALSA--via Giving Tuesday or any other time. In fact, I see them as some of YALSA’s most important activists because they’re helping association fulfill its mission to fight for teen services in libraries all across the country. I love thinking about all of that youth-focused goodwill, and as a Past President it motivates me to do the same both locally and nationally. Plus, I think it’s important that because of all of these activists who give to us, YALSA is able to award over $150,000.00 of scholarships and awards to members. That’s big stuff!

Speaking of advocacy, we know that YALSA members often place Advocacy and Activism at the top of their list when it comes to getting support from YALSA. Can you elaborate how Giving Tuesday supports this goal in YALSA’s Strategic Plan?

MM: Giving Tuesday enables librarians and library workers to have a voice. Sending librarians and library workers to Legislative Day, who care about the same issues as other YA librarians is powerful. It sends a strong message not only to our legislators, but also to every library worker who struggles to get what they need for their patrons. There are some days when it is just nice to know that YALSA is there supporting library staff and helping us to have a voice. The resources YALSA provides are a huge help in advocating for what we do.

JM: I know a lot of YALSA members might have questions about how much they should give for Giving Tuesday. What have people given in the past?

MM: Anything! If every YALSA member just gave $1 we would far exceed our goal of $4000 (which would send 4 members to Library Legislative Day)! It’s important for people to understand that even the smallest amount is a huge help. If you are in a position to be able to donate more, then great! Give up your Starbucks for the day and help get our voices heard! I actually just finished teaching my 2nd graders about Sarah Hale and her letter writing campaign (that spanned 38 years) just to get Thanksgiving turned into a national holiday. She knew that every letter counted, just as every penny donated counts.

JM: Wow. I hadn’t thought about it in that way. Let me reiterate: if every member only gave $1, we’d reach our goal! Maybe even surpass it! But also, I know many members may be wondering how they can give. YALSA has made it really easy to give, right?

MM: YALSA has made it so easy this year!  Not only can you log onto the ala.org and donate the traditional way, but now you can text to donate! All you have to do is text ALA TEENALA to this number: 41518 to make a $10 donation to YALSA. It couldn’t be easier!
JM: This has been a great conversation, Melissa! I hope everyone out there enjoyed learning about this super important initiative, and we’ll hopefully see everyone out there on social media to support YALSA’s Giving Tuesday campaign on Tuesday, December 2, 2014.

by Sarah Levin

It was with a lot of enthusiasm that I applied for the YALSA NLLD travel stipend in late January. I honestly didn't know a lot about legislative issues, but I did have a nagging feeling that I should be advocating for libraries, and specifically for teens. As a librarian at an independent high school in San Francisco, I need to act on behalf of teens that need a place to study on the weekends, to get job skills and volunteer. A place where kids who go to public schools that are underfunded' can go and get both the help they need for school and books they want to read for fun.

I was eager to see what actually happens in DC and what kinds of people attend NLLD (all sorts of librarians and even trustees, as it turns out!). I also wanted to bring back advocacy issues to my community of teens, faculty, and other bay area librarians' . When I found out I had received the funding, I felt excited and grateful, but I have to admit I was also nervous.

difi

Me with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

As the date approached, I asked myself why I was going to NLLD. I am fortunate to be able to give my students the resources they need thanks to a supportive administration. Even though government funding doesn't directly affect my library, I feel the need to act on behalf of those libraries that rely on it to survive. Still, I was a bit anxious about going. Would I be able to effectively advocate for teens?

Thankfully, our state coordinator called me about six weeks prior to NLLD and provided me with the necessary steps to get started. I made appointments with the offices of Nancy Pelosi (representing the district in which I teach) and Barbara Lee (representing the district in which I live). When I arrived in DC, ALA had planned a pre-conference for those of us who had little experience with the legislative process, as well as a briefing day to provide us with the information we'd need to advocate.

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By Maribel Lechuga

If you don't know, the Friends of YALSA funds a $1000 travel stipend to attend National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) in Washington, D.C. This May, I was one of three recipients who had the opportunity to advocate for teens and engage in the legislative process by lobbying for libraries. I had no clue about this process but was motivated to apply for the stipend to practice advocacy in a broader arena, expand my understanding of library issues beyond those in my own branch and library system, and visit Washington D.C. for the first time ever!

I felt nervous to converse with my state Senators and Representatives but was not unprepared. ALA spends an entire day prior to NLLD briefing every participant on key issues. I was also fortunate to work with my state delegation, Washington Library Association President, Nancy Ledeboer and John Sheller, King County Library Manager, both fabulous teachers and partners in this process. I came to understand that the congressional staff that we met are probably inundated with key issues brought forth by many organizations each day. I learned that as a Youth Services Librarian, I was able to offer specific examples and frontline stories about how libraries foster learning, personal and professional development, social opportunities, and refuge for teens, children, and families.

The NLLD is one of several opportunities that YALSA offers its members to grow professionally. And frontline stories like yours are needed to help others relate to and remember what libraries do for teens. For more information about NLLD 2015 and other YALSA awards, grants, and scholarships, go to http://www.ala.org/yalsa/awardsandgrants/yalsaawardsgrants

Please consider giving to Friends of YALSA support more professional opportunities like this.