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Speak Up for Libraries

To help library advocates “speak up” about the library message, the ALA Washington Office is offering a series of new resources in the coming months, including webinars, podcasts, online classes and materials to make your federal grassroots lobbying experience as easy and painless as possible. Join us for our first “Speaking Up!” webinar on Thursday, March 6, at 4:00pm EST. You can learn more and register here.

Why get involved?

Did you know that the ALA Washington Office monitors or actively lobbies for hundreds of bills that could impact the day-to-day work of all types of libraries around the country?

Or how about this: as of February 18, 2008, over 275 bills mentioning the word “library” have been introduced in this session of the U.S. Congress?

Or, perhaps most important, that the most common question in any Member of Congress’ office is, “how does this impact my district?”

Ther ALA Washington Office is comprised of experienced professionals who firmly understand the legislative process, as well as the potential impact of proposed bills on the library community. They know the difference between a conference committee and a markup, a Suspension bill and a Senator, or a concurrent resolution and a special order.

But with all their knowledge, they often lack one important ingredient for success; the answer to the most important question of all, “how do proposed federal policies impact individual congressional districts and states?”

In fact, that question can best be answered by you: the individual members of ALA. We need your stories, your local expertise and your active participation to influence federal policy.

At the same time, we understand that the modern librarian plays a number of
roles: business person, advisor, community developer-even baby sitter! Believe it or not, learning the ins and outs of effective advocacy will make each and every one of these roles easier to manage. Whether you have five minutes, one hour or three days to devote to advocacy, you’ll see its positive impact in all the work you do.

The good news is that the ALA Washington Office stands ready to assist. Following are the top 10 things you can do to be an effective grassroots advocate — if we can help you implement any of these ideas, let us know!

  1. Sign up for National Library Legislative Day.
  2. If you can’t come to DC, sign up for Virtual Library Legislative Day.
  3. Before Library Legislative Day, participate in one of our webinars (or download the recording after):
    • March 6th: Advocacy and the Modern Librarian: ALA Resources and Events to Help YOU Go Forth and Advocate (register here)
    • April 16th: Preparing for Leg Day: Whether In DC or At Home, You too can be an Effective Advocate
  4. Go to our online action center at and respond to an action alert. It takes FIVE minutes! If you aren’t sure how, attend our March 6th session or download the post-session recording.
  5. Take our online advocacy class!
  6. If you haven’t already, join FLLAN, the Federal Library Legislative and Advocacy Network. More information at

  7. Sign up to receive notices from the District Dispatch or ALAWON Newsletter. If you prefer podcasts, have no fear-there will be plenty of them coming your way!
  8. Join us after Library Legislative Day for more webinars on topics ranging from Building Long Term Relationships with Elected Officials to Creating Local Advocacy Campaigns to Arranging Library Tours and Visits.
  9. Identify opportunities for your library to get involved in the elections – from President to your local city council, there will likely be some changes. Wouldn’t it be great to have library friendly folks in office? Get started by encouraging friends, trustees and board members to register to vote at
  10. Check out the resources and materials at ALA’s own “Advocacy Institute.”

Why you? Only you can help Members of Congress understand that the crazy things they do in Washington,DC, directly and sometimes negatively impact local libraries.

Why now? Changes in the makeup of the U.S. Congress offer both opportunities and challenges for libraries. We will reap the benefits of opportunities (and minimize the challenges) if we all speak up… not tomorrow, not next week, not next year but NOW!

So what are you waiting for?! Get out there and advocate for libraries! You’ll be glad you did.

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Jacob Roberts is the communications specialist for the ALA Washington Office.

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