National Library Legislative Days –The NHLA Presidential Report
National Library Legislative Days are a chance for librarians from across the country to come together and petition their representatives in the House and Senate for renewed federal funding and to gain attention for the issues that most affect libraries. ALA Washington, D.C. hosts the event, provides training opportunities and social activities, and supplies packets of materials for librarians and legislators about key issues. Here’s what my experience was like:
Monday May 6th kicked things off with a “pre-conference” training or “newbie” training for first timers to Legislative Days. In truth there were plenty of veteran attendees there, too. This meeting was held at the ALA Washington office (on NH Avenue!) and included speakers who had worked as congressional staffers. It was very helpful to learn the do’s and don’ts for meetings with representatives. They told us to prepare ourselves for the youth of the staffers (seriously, I don’t think I saw any one of them over 25), research our legislators on social media, and don’t forget to actually ask for what you want.
Tuesday, May 7th was a day of briefings on all the issues of concern to libraries on a national level. I have to confess that this was a little overwhelming. (For anybody who wants to see what we were doing–video briefings, PDFs with key issues are available at the National Library Legislative Day Web Site There was a speaker from the Pew Research center, and several people and panels stressing the importance of federally funded programs. SO much info. Lots of homework for me.
Wednesday, May 8th Meetings Day. Michael York had arranged our meetings and we were fortunate to see somebody in all four of our Congressional Representatives’ offices. In speaking with other attendees of Legislative Days, I know not all visitors were so fortunate. We had a brief meeting with Senator Jeanne Shaheen and a follow up meeting with one of her staff assistants. Later, we met with legislative correspondents in Congresswoman Shea Porter’s office, Congresswoman Kuster’s office, and Senator Ayotte’s office. In each case I feel we were able to impress upon them the crucial role of federal funds (LSTA monies) to NH libraries. In all but one case the person was from NH.
Since our meetings, Senator Shaheen’s and Congresswoman Kuster’s offices have “liked” NHLA on Facebook and begun to follow NHLA on Twitter. Senator Ayotte’s office said they would consider itJ. I have received warm follow up emails from all four staff people with whom we met. I hope that this is a sign of positive connections made during our brief stint in the Nation’s Capital. Many thanks to Michael York, NH State Librarian and Randy Brough, NHLA Legislative Liaison, for their help and support throughout the happenings.
I met many wonderful people from all over the country last week, and heard about their organizations. It was a terrific experience, and I am fortunate to have had this great opportunity. I was honored to be representing NHLA at this important event.