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

#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.

Apply by April 10 for Funds to Attend National Library Legislative Day

Because the White House’s budget proposes eliminating all federal funds for libraries, YALSA’s Board of Directors has re-opened the travel stipend application in order to send an additional member to Washington DC to advocate for teens and libraries. The stipend, funded by Friends of YALSA, will enable one qualified recipient to receive up to $1,000 to attend ALA’s 2017 National Library Legislative Day, in Washington, DC, May 1-2, 2017. Apply online by April 10, 2017.  Applicants will be notified the week of April 17, 2017.  The Board is specifically seeking applicants from states other than Pennsylvania and Texas, as those are the two states being represented by other YALSA NLLD travel stipend winners.

-Beth Yoke

P.S. for other ways to stand up for teens and libraries, read this earlier YALSAblog post

National Library Legislative Day 2015

When I first contacted YALSA about participating in NLLD 2015, I framed my interest as a novice, mentee and student wanting to learn more about advocacy and successful advocacy strategies for my specific community. I am a new school librarian and NLLD beamed opportunity, inspiration, information and networking, of course!

I was excited and anticipated experiencing the more political side of libraries, remember, I was a novice and prepared to act as a sponge, absorbing everything I heard and saw, taking cue from the leaders in my group, one of the flock. However, after contacting my local library association, Louisiana Library Association, I discovered that no representatives were attending this year. I wasn’t sure what that meant for me and figured everything would be taken care of, remember I was a mentee and prepared to be guided by much more experienced and confident librarians. But then my role swifty changed, I became the leader, charged with scheduling appointments with legislators and being prepared to represent, if not lead, the interests and voices of libraries, librarians and the people they serve in Louisiana. Inexperienced as I was, the thought of leading, was a harrowing, humbling (maybe a bit dramatic) but, nonetheless, exhilarating feeling.

photo 3 (4)On Friday May 1st, I left Louisiana to go to the capital. I knew where I was suppose to be and what time, appointments were scheduled and I had several extremely helpful guides along the way especially Beth Yoke assuring me that everything would be OK.

I was also lucky enough to have the weekend to explore the city. There was an overwhelming feeling of greatness, magnitude and it wasn’t in the larger than life buildings, statues or museums, it was just apparent walking the streets or taking the metro. Important things had happened here, important things continue to happen here and it felt good to be near that.

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#NLLD15 First Time Attendee

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.

Advocating for School Libraries – a Primer

“What?  I need to do what?  But what does that mean?”  These are exactly the words that flashed through my mind when I attended my first annual conference and heard a keynote speaker say,  “It is our responsibility to advocate for our students, our programs and our profession.”  After what I consider a compulsory moment of internal panic, [inside voice:  I have a new responsibility.  No one told me about it.  I don’t even know how!  This did not happen in library school. What?]  I began to calm myself.  [It is a brand new day and I can do this, I think.  Ok, but first, I will read the new Neal Shusterman book.]

Now, several years later, as I stare at the four stools behind my circulation desk and feel their lonely state, I now understand that is is my responsibility to advocate for my students, my program, and my profession.

AASL provides the best definition:

Advocacy is the ongoing process of building partnerships so that others will act for and with you, turning passive support into educated action for the library program.

WHY ADVOCATE

When we advocate, we are building partnerships and educating others to act on behalf of our students and programs.  I don’t know about you, but I can always use the extra help. Part of being effective is seeking the resources needed for your program.  If you want help, you must ask.  (It is not WWII, the volunteer generation has left the building.)  Trust me, relying on the collective memories of library experiences from your stakeholders to drive them to act is a bad idea.  You must share your vision in order to offer opportunities for investment.  Get some great advocacy resources from YALSA at ala.org/yalsa/advocacy

WHAT I CAN DO NOW

  1. STAY POSITIVE.  No one likes to hear about the downfall of the library or your fear about losing your job or your program.  This is negative branding and you let them know you are expendable.  Worse, no one is comfortable, so they avoid the media center.  Post your positive message where you can see it every day, the message you will share when others ask how are things are going.

Exa.  “Hey, did you know the new Florida Teens Read List was just announced.  So many of the books look so good!  I can’t wait to read them.”

Exa.  “I am just arranging the new college and career section!  Isn’t it great!”

Exa.  “Oh, these kids are keeping me busy, busy, busy!” Continue reading

Does your State Legislature Support Libraries?

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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Reflections on National Library Legislative Day

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.

Making Advocacy Awesome: National Library Legislative Day 2013

by Jenna Nemec-Loise

When I applied back in March for YALSA’s 2013 Advocacy Travel Stipend, I listed 19 reasons for wanting to attend my very first National Library Legislative Day (NLLD)— my rock-star teen volunteers.

NLLD 13 (I Love Libraries!)

But get this:

Just one short year ago, my 19 reasons freaked me out. And I don’t mean in a gee-I’m-a-little-bit-nervous-around-teens kind of way. I’m talking white-knuckle-deer-in-headlights terror here.

I mean, come on. I’m an early childhood specialist. My days are filled with Mother Goose on the Loose, phonological awareness, and three-dozen two-year-old “boyfriends,” all searching for that elusive Thomas the Tank Engine book. I love the little kids. I’m awesome with them. What was I going to do with teens?
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Advocate from home or in person: National Library Legislative Day

National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) is May 7-8 in Washington, DC. This important event puts hundreds of librarians, library advocates, and citizens in front of legislators to champion national funding. If you cannot attend in person, there are a number of ways you can advocate!

  • Be on the lookout for emails from YALSA promoting the Tweet Your Senator Map and a NEW map, the Tweet Your Representative Map!
  • Get up-to-date on NLLD activities at the District Dispatch blog.
  • Follow the ALA Washington Office on Twitter and Facebook for up-to-the-minute details on activities and ways you can advocate from home.
  • If you do attend, the YALSA Legislative Committee wants to highlight your NLLD story! Please email chair Lizz Zitron to share your story and inspire your colleagues.