What is National Library Legislative Day?

National Library Legislative Day is May 7-8 this year in Washington, D.C. What exactly is NLLD? It’s an opportunity for libraries to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill! Librarians from all over come to the capitol to share library stories of success with their representatives and to thank those representatives that have made libraries a priority during their time in Congress. It’s a time for librarians and library supporters to get the word out that all libraries are important and well worth supporting.

How to Participate

If you’re able to make it to Washington, D.C. you can join other librarians in face-to face meetings. You can register here’  if you’re planning on participating directly. If you’re not able to attend, that’s okay because there are lots of other ways to participate!

Virtual participation is a key element to NLLD. Send your Senators tweets on May 7th and 8th telling them how important libraries are for teens. Give them examples of great programs and success stories that show how library funding is used. Send emails and call your state representatives to let them know that you support libraries and you want them to do the same. Make sure you have information handy that will matter to your representatives- show how your library is a key part of your community and is valued by his/her constituents!

When contacting your Congressional representatives, whether in person or online, keep a few things in mind. (1) Their time is valuable, and you may not be dealing directly with them. This is fine, because having a good relationship with a Congressperson’s staff can be beneficial! (2) Be brief. We’re not the only ones advocating our cause, so be sure to have a few points laid out that can be read or discussed in a short amount of time. If they want more information they will ask for it! (3) Make sure that you are contacting the right representatives! Find out who represents the district your library is in, since it may be a different person than the one who represents the one you live in. Focus your advocacy efforts on the people who actually serve your library and its patrons. (This is true of all government representatives from Federal all the way down to City/local!)

State associations and local participation

If you can’t make it to Washington D.C. but still want to be more than just virtually involved, one thing you might consider is that a lot of states have their own smaller version of National Library Legislative Day, where librarians go to their state capitol and do what we do in DC. Since not everyone can get to DC and state government is just as important when it comes to education and library related initiatives holding an advocacy event closer to home is a great way to participate- and you’d have something to tweet to your Senators, too- “Remember when we visited you in (state)?”

I did a program about how to start getting involved in advocacy at the Nevada Library Association annual conference in October 2012. One gentleman in the audience who was from Canada said that a group of librarians did an advocacy workshop near their capitol building one morning, which explained the who-what-how’s of advocating, and then that afternoon everyone went over to their capitol building and spent the afternoon talking to all of their representatives armed with knowledge and know-how. Why not stage something similar locally in your city or county?

Links to online participation

Tweet your Senator- http://wikis.ala.org/yalsa/index.php/National_Library_Legislative_Day#Tweet_Your_US_Senator

Tools to help- http://wikis.ala.org/yalsa/index.php/National_Library_Legislative_Day#Tools_to_Help

For a complete list of resources visit the’ YALSA advocacy page and the ALA’ NLLD page.

~Carla Land

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