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.