On May 13 and 14, over 400 librarians and library supporters converged on Washington, DC, for the 34th annual National Library Legislative Day. They came from as far away as Hawaii and from every library discipline you can think of, to lobby their Members of Congress on such issues as copyright, telecommunications and funding. “Vote for Libraries!” was the message of the day and the enthusiastic crowd set out to bring that message to their Senators and Representatives.
National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) is actually a two-day event. The first day is called Briefing Day, which is designed to bring participants up to speed on the wide variety of federal issues that are important to libraries. Attendees spent this year’s Briefing Day in the newly renovated Liaison Capitol Hill (formerly the Holiday Inn on the Hill), where they were treated to speakers from the ALA Washington Office, the Center for National Security Studies, the lobbying firm of Van Scoyoc Associates, and several ALA consultants. The guest speaker was Nancy Tate, Executive Director of the League of Women of the United States & the League of Women Voters Education Fund.
The day after Briefing Day was National Library Legislative Day itself. Attendees gathered together by state and visited as many of their legislators as the day allowed. Armed with the information from Briefing Day, a half-dozen Issue Briefs prepared by the ALA Washington Office (and still available at www.ala.org/nlld), and state-specific materials and testimonials, the library advocates were well-equipped to talk shop with Congressional members and staffers.
NLLD events came to a close with the annual reception, an end-of-day soiree with food and drinks, where attendees swapped stories and mingled with Members of Congress. This year’s reception attracted several Members, including Sens. Jack Reed (RI) and Mike Enzi (WY) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD). The reception took place in the Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building, the oldest and one of the largest assembly rooms built for the Senate outside the Capitol.
A Second Life for Virtual Library Legislative Day
Those who couldn’t make it to DC but still wanted to communicate the needs of libraries to Capitol Hill participated in Virtual Library Legislative Day, during which library supporters all over the country emailed, called and faxed their Members of Congress. This year, 604 unique activists sent 1817 messages to their legislators. (A nod to ALA’s Government Documents Round Table for a making a special effort on this!)
2008 also marked a significant first for Virtual Library Legislative Day, as the event made its way into the online environment Second Life.
ALA/WHCLIST Leg Day Award Presented
At the Briefing Day events, Frances E. Wielin was honored with the American Library Association/ White House Conference on Library and Information Services Taskforce (ALA/WHCLIST) National Library Legislative Day Award. Ms. Wielin received $300 to help pay for her trip to Leg Day.
Ms. Wielin has been an active library supporter for more than a decade, having volunteered over 3,000 hours at her local library, and simultaneously serving on her local library community Board of Directors for eight years. She is now a Trustee in the Palos Verdes (CA) Library District, where she continuously demonstrates a long-term commitment to public libraries on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
“Fran is a long-time community activist and library supporter,” said Nancy Mohr, President, Board of Trustees, Palos Verdes Library District. “She has served on many [community-based organization (CBO)] boards and was president of the Friends of the Library for four years, in addition to giving many volunteer hours to the library.”
Rep. Vernon Ehlers Given FOLUSA Award at Leg Day Reception
At the annual reception that brings Leg Day events to a close, Friends of Libraries USA (FOLUSA) Executive Director Sally Reed presented Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) with the FOLUSA Public Service Award, an award that honors a legislator who has been especially supportive of libraries. Rep. Ehlers is one of the sponsors of the SKILLs Act.
The ALA Office of Government Relations and Committee on Legislation would like to extend their deepest thanks to all those who participated in National Library Legislative Day 2008.