Thinking About Advocacy and Lobbying, Again

Earlier this month I wrote a YALSA Blog post about the difference between lobbying and advocacy. Since publishing that post I’ve been thinking more about the topic. (Actually, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m in the process of finishing a book for YALSA and Neal-Schuman on the topic of teen library services advocacy.) As I’ve done more research on the topic of advocacy and lobbying, and thought more generally about advocacy, I’ve realized there is more to say. Here goes:

  • While those working in libraries might not be able perform extensive lobbying for a particular piece of legislation or policy that’s under discussion by government officials, it is OK to ask members of the community to contact policy makers about a particular issue. Continue reading

Advocacy and Lobbying – What’s the Difference?

Frequently I talk with librarians about advocacy in teen services. We talk about what it means to be an advocate. We talk about how to get started in advocacy efforts. We talk about how to find time to advocate. We talk about a lot more related to speaking up and out about teen services to a variety of audiences including colleagues, community members, and government officials.

I recently realized that for some librarians there is a concern that if they talk with government officials – legislators and such – in order to advocate for teen services, that they might actually be lobbying. And, for some, lobbying is not allowed within their job description. This got me thinking, what is the difference between advocacy and lobbying? Continue reading

Legislative Issues Affecting YA Library Services

What are the major legislative issues affecting young adult library services?’ This post will focus on two.

First, the 2011 funding level for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). ALA is encouraging members to ask their congressional leaders to fund LSTA at $300 million for FY 2011.

LSTA funding is distributed to states by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through population-based grants.’ LSTA is the only source of federal funding for public libraries, and with more and more public libraries facing state and local budget cuts, it is critically important that libraries receive this money. In this case, we are not seeking to pass legislation, but to influence the funding level for legislation that is already in effect.

Second, the good news. In August, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1586, a $26-billion state aid package intended to prevent layoffs of educators and other state and local government workers. $10 billion will go specifically to education, and school librarians can benefit from this funding.

However, ALA is continuing to lobby for additional support to school libraries, specifically for the inclusion of school libraries in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ALA is pushing for the ESEA to include a goal of having a school library staffed by a state-licensed school librarian in every public school, and to open state and local professional development funds to school libraries for the recruiting and training of school librarians.

The ESEA legislation will determine education policy for years to come. We need to make sure that it includes school libraries.

Where can you find information about legislative issues affecting libraries?
ALA’s Legislative Alerts and Updates page
Or the more extensive, “Legislation We are Watching” page