This post was written by Yolanda Peña Mendrek, winner of the 2018 White House Conference on Library and Information Services Taskforce (WHCLIST) Award.
Where do I begin? A great many thanks to American Library Association for organizing National Library Legislative Day (NLLD), a grassroots event held in Washington, D.C. Attending NLLD for the first time was an exciting, as well as a rewarding experience. And that experience started before I even arrived in D.C.
I registered to attend NLLD for the first time because I wanted to tell our representatives why we needed their support in passing legislation that will fund libraries across the USA. Our libraries are not only places to read books and newspapers, they are community hubs where friends and acquaintances meet with others to participate in book clubs, receive resume assistance and attend job training programs, research about health issues, and learn a new language, among many other things. With that in mind, I applied for the WHCLIST Award, and was amazed when I was informed that I had won. I was thrilled and honored to be recognized, in front of my advocates peers, during the National Library Legislative Day reception at the Hart Senate building.
On Monday, in order to learn how to positively advocate and make the best of our time, all attendees received advocacy training. We learned what to say in our meetings with Members of Congress and how to say it, whether we had the opportunity to talk with the elected official in person or with their staffers.
On Tuesday, I joined others from the California delegation to meet in person with Representatives DeSaulnier and Lofgren, who are both supporters of education and libraries services. In addition, we met with staff members of Representatives Swalwell, and Khanna, and Senators Feinstein and Harris. I appreciated meeting with the staffers, who were very knowledgeable and gracious during our meetings.
During my time in Washington D.C., I met some amazing people from libraries across the nation. Some of the activities offered at their libraries are just terrific and they are all to serve students and community at large. Moreover, walking around D.C. is always an energizing experience. It is where everything happens and where we, as community advocates, believe changes can be influenced.
I would like to encourage many more friends of libraries, and the community at large to get involved. If you want to support your libraries, go to Washington, D.C. for NLLD. If you can’t attend in person, you can always participate online. We can make a difference if we all take the time to work together. I hope to be there next year.
I am thankful for having the opportunity to be part of National Library Legislative Day 2018. Thank you to my new friends for working hard to support our libraries…till next year!