On June 29, 2010, over 40 Ohio librarians, staff, and supporters attended Library Advocacy Day in Washington D.C. The day began with a rally on Capitol Hill with over 1,600 advocates attending despite the heat, making the event the largest federal advocacy event in the American Library Association's history.
Rally attendees heard from ALA President Camila Alire, best-selling young adult author Lauren Myracle, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, U.S Representative Vernon Ehlers, and ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels.
After the rally, 32 Ohio delegates met with Moira Lenehan-Razzuri from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown's office and told the story of Ohio libraries and the importance of federal funds and library-friendly policies. The Ohio delegates then went on to meet with the congressional offices for the district in which they reside or work and share their stories of Ohio libraries.
National Library Legislative Day 2011
National Library Legislative Day 2011 will be held on Monday May 9th and Tuesday May 10th. For more details, you can subscribe to ALA’s District Dispatch.
Tips for Meeting with Elected Officials
- As a constituent, library professional, and library supporter, you will be heard more by your legislator than a paid lobbyist or a special interest group.
- Always act and speak in a professional manner. If you are distracted, interrupted or asked tough questions, remain calm and stick with your planned presentation. If you don’t know an answer, say that you will get back to them about it as soon as possible.
- Tell the story of Ohio libraries and if possible, of the legislator’s district. The State Library, along with the American Library Association, will provide key talking points and supporting materials to delegates but it is also best to supplement with anecdotes from your library experience.
- Deliver a clear message so your legislator knows what you want them to do (vote for or against specific legislation, support funding, persuade other legislators, etc.).
- Be enthusiastic and positive.
- Remember that legislators’ schedules often change. They might be late to your meeting, you might be interrupted, or you might meet with a staff member. Still, it is important to be on time so you don’t miss your opportunity for a meeting. Also, do not be discouraged if you meet with a staff member. Staff members do have considerable influence.
- Before you leave, say thank you!
- After you return to your library, follow up with a thank you letter. Be sure to include any additional information you promised to provide.
ALA Washington Office’s Take Action list
Library Advocacy Day FAQ
Ohio Advocacy & Outreach in Ohio
Quotable Facts About America’s Libraries
The Ohio Library Council’s Advocacy Resources
What Not to Say When Advocating