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District Dispatch #31 – Transcript

Below is the transcript from District Dispatch Podcast #31: National Library Legislative Day Issues, which starred, Lynne Bradley, Emily Sheketoff, and Andy Bridges.

Transcript of District Dispatch Podcast#31
Total Minutes – 9:15

ANDY BRIDGES: Hello and welcome to the DISTRICT DISPATCH PODCAST, coming to you live from the ALA Washington Office. We’re not really live, I guess, if you’re listening to this via Podcast.

I’m here with Lynne Bradley and Emily Sheketoff, and we’re here to talk about National Library Legislative Day, whereby 400 or so library advocates come to Capitol Hill to lobby their members of Congress about issues that are important to libraries. And we’re also going to talk a little bit about Virtual Legislative Library Day. For those that can’t make it to D.C., we’re hoping that they’ll write, email, phone, do whatever to contact their members of Congress and talk about those same issues. So Lynne or Emily, I just want to pull your strings and let you rip. Tell us about it.

EMILY SHEKETOFF: Well, I like to encourage people, if you can’t come to Washington, D.C. in May, that you still can have an impact and that is by calling your Representative and both Senators and letting them know how important library services are in your community, and tell them what you need them to do. After all, they represent you. I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage you, if you can’t come to Washington D.C. in May, you can still have an impact. You can still call your Representative, email your Congressman, fax your Senator and let them know the important work that you’re doing and how important library services are to your community. The people in your community are their constituents. These people represent you, so let them know what’s important to you.

ANDY BRIDGES: Is there anything specific? Any issues people should be on the lookout for?

EMILY SHEKETOFF: Yes. Especially now, especially in May, tell both your representatives and your Senators how important federal funding is for libraries. Both the House and the Senate will be marking up appropriations bills after Memorial Day. So every Congressman, every Senator, should be hearing from his and her constituents about the importance of federal funding for libraries. That’s LSTA funding, improving literacy through school libraries and all of the other federal funding that supports library services in this country.

LYNNE BRADLEY: And I’d like to add Emily, this is Lynne everyone, that you can find more information about both the appropriations issues and the many other things that we’re encouraging folks to lobby Congress about, on the ALA website, if you go to and go to the Washington office site.

There are a lot of other issues that will be described there because, as Emily said, there are many hot issues right now before Congress. That’s one reason why May is such a busy month for all of us and why National Library Legislative Day has been held for over 30 years during the month of May.

Whatever way you’re going to be communicating with your respective Representatives and Senators, there are a number of other issues that are really critical right now. We’ll be talking to the Congressional members about copyright, for example. And some important legislation right now on orphan works, having to do with whether libraries and others who are concerned about preserving materials for which we cannot find the copyright owner and how we can go about doing that in a legal way, or not.

There’s going to be some other privacy issues, which you know are important to the entire library community. We’re going to be talking to Senators and Congressmen about reforming the National Security Letters Legislation, because of the risk to witch hunts and fishing expeditions, and we know from other recent examples, that these National Security Letters, which have no court overview, no close oversight, have been used to try to obtain library records.

Similar to that is some other reform legislation related to The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Now, a lot of these issues seem really complicated and I know here in the office we get calls sometimes from people who say, “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know all those bills.” Well, let me just say that every one of us can talk about these bills and some of these important issues at any level. I want to emphasize what Emily said, and that is that you all know your libraries. You know your library services and you know the constituents that you are serving. Whether you work in a school, public, academic or even special library. And the most important thing, even more than knowing the details of a particular bill or the numbers on an appropriation, is to tell your library story so that these Representatives and Senators can see why these issues are important to their constituents.

Another area that we’re going to be covering this coming week, is telecommunications. The Congress is still in the throes of negotiations, or what we call a conference committee between the House and the Senate, over the Farm Bill. Now some people would say, “Why are we in a Bill that talks about subsidies for cattle farmers and asparagus growers?” But there is a particular title within the Farm Bill that addresses rural telecommunications. We have a small amendment in that, but it’s significant for libraries, in terms of trying to add libraries with eligible entities in to a rural telecommunications loan and grant program so that we can participate and partner with community colleges, K12 schools, and other local entities that are serving residents of rural areas.

ANDY BRIDGES: Okay, and Emily, did you have–

EMILY SHEKETOFF: I did. This is a very important time – May, June, July, August. Your members of Congress, your Senators, are going to be home. And so take this opportunity when they’re home to go to Town Hall meetings, if they have them, to go to meetings of any type that they might call, or invite them to your library, K12 School, academic or public libraries. And let them see what you do. Let them see the services that you bring to the community and how much the community depends on those services. That will really show them how important you are and why more resources need to come to your library. So take this opportunity, they’re going to be home a lot in the next few months and they need things to do, places to go, opportunities to meet their constituents. Give them that opportunity, both the sitting member of Congress and whoever is running against them for the House and the Senate. So that when the new Congress comes in January, they know exactly what you’re asking for. They know exactly what you’re doing in their constituency , so that they’re sure to give you the resources you need to improve your library services.

LYNNE BRADLEY: Emily, sometimes I think of that song, and I’ll hum it in a different way. (Singing) Why isn’t Leg Day all the year round? Advocates and library supporters talking about libraries all around town.”

Sorry everyone, I’m not a good singer. But the point here is that Leg Day is one day of the year and we really do want people to come to D.C. and meet directly with their Congressional Representatives. At the same time, Virtual Day, we would really like to beef up. I mean, let’s close down the switchboard. Let’s slow down the emails because we’ve inundated Congressional offices with our library messages.

But really these are just one example, one week or a couple of days, within a total of 365 days a year. Now you don’t have to write a letter every day of the year, or call your local office or the D.C. office of your congressional folks. But it is important to develop these relationships and in election years especially, whether again, they’re candidates or returning Representatives. There’s a lot of opening for discussion and debate and ideas to bring that library message forward. So tell your library stories and it does have an impact.

ANDY BRIDGES: I would only add, don’t forget to use to tell their stories. Send an email or fax to your members of Congress and see what legislation is hot in Congress.

Well, I think that about covers it. I think people got more than they bargained for with this podcast today.

LYNNE BRADLEY: I won’t sing next time everyone.

ANDY BRIDGES: Okay, well thank you both very much.


ANDY BRIDGES: If you have any feedback for the DISTRICT DISPATCH PODCAST, please send it to Thanks and talk to you soon.


Transcription provided by: The Transcript Library –

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

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