Ready … set … write!

The countdown is over – it’s National Library Legislative Day! Today and tomorrow, let’s support all our colleagues who are in Washington by emailing or calling our Senators and Representatives. There are several pieces of pending legislation that affect teens, and your calls and letters will help! Here are a couple to consider:

  • Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois has re-introduced the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA), which passed in the House in 2006 but died in the Senate. He wants to ban Second Life in schools and libraries due to the “dangers” of virtual worlds for children.
  • Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI-3) have introduced a bill to address the school library crisis facing the Nation: the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLs) Act. The inclusion of the SKILLs Act in the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is vital to school libraries. It is the single most important piece of legislation concerning school libraries that will come before Congress this year.

Talking points and a “find your legislator” link can be found on the YALSA wiki. Don’t wait, do it now! Legislators are waiting to hear from you.

Maureen Ambrosino
YALSA Legislation Committee

National Library Legislative Day

Check out the podcast ALA Washington Office put together highlighting some of the major issues including: Copyright, National Security Letters, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and Telecommunications. The podcast is also about how we can participate virtually and still have an impact even if we’re not able to go to Washington D.C. Letting our representatives know how important our work is that we do in other words. What a great opportunity to talk to our representatives about what libraries do for teens and can do because of the federal funding that supports library services.

Feel free to share your comments about how your teens have advocated for something-maybe it’ll help inspire other blog readers to get ideas on how to participate in National Library Legislative Day (May 13-14).

Five minutes = powerful messages!

photo of lightningThere is a really important event coming up, and we’re looking for help from every librarian who works with teens. We know teens are too young to vote, so we need to speak up for them and with them, to our federal and state legislators. All it takes is a few minutes of your time – if we all speak loudly with one voice, the message will be heard!

National Library Legislative Day is coming up May 13 and 14. We hope YALSA members will turn out to support the event and talk to officials about the importance of libraries to our teenagers. It may seem intimidating or scary to attend an event like this, but be assured that our officials (or, in many cases, their aides) are very happy to see you and hear what you have to say. It’s very impressive to them to actually see us in their offices talking about issues that are important to us and to our teens.

If you aren’t able to go to Washington in May, there are many ways you can participate from wherever you are. Here are a few ideas of how you can help:

  • ALA has created a Virtual Library Legislative Day web page that includes publicity tips and ideas of what to do. Later this month it will be stocked with key messages, so you will know exactly what to say. You can call, write, email or fax your officials using these messages. Your teens can too!
  • The YALSA wiki has great information to help you, including a “find your legislator” locator, talking points, and a legislative advocacy guide.

The most important thing you can do to help is to do something! Writing a quick email to your legislator will take about five minutes and will send a powerful message that libraries are vital to teenagers. Let’s flood their email boxes with stories of how important library funding is to the next generation of taxpayers!

~Maureen Ambrosino, YALSA Legislation Committee
(thanks to Flickr user phatman for use of the photo!)