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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Legislative Advocacy and You: Spread Some Library Love This Valentine’s Day

This blog may focus on helping library workers to better serve leisure readers, but every single library worker, in every single library in America needs to constantly be involved with advocacy, especially on the legislative level. We can't do anything to help anyone without the support of our community’s and, more importantly, our legislators.
I realize this point has moved more to the forefront in the last few months, but as a Trustee, this is something I have been involved with for years through my local library association. It is the main reason why I have continued to serve as a Trustee-- because I understand how important the advocacy piece of librarianship truly is.
Need a succinct reminder for yourself? From the Illinois Library Association’s Advocacy page:
One of your most important tasks as a library supporter is to communicate with elected officials whose actions can have an enormous impact on your library and your community. Whether you work with public, academic, school, or special libraries, state laws and policies affect libraries of all types. ILA monitors all legislation affecting libraries, from budgets to legislation on filtering and open meetings law, from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to pension reform, to laws governing municipalities and tax caps. 
2016 Palm Card2017 Palm CardAdvocacy ToolkitTop Ten Advocacy TipsJoin the Legislative Advocacy NetworkILA Public Policy PrinciplesMaking Your Case
As a member of the Illinois Library Association and as a Cook County elected Library Trustee I have supported all IL libraries by attending the ILA organized, regional legislative meet-ups every year. My library is actually split between the South Suburban and West Suburban meet-ups, so I split the duties with our library director. Together we are able to divide, conquer, and reach out personally to dozens of state and federal reps from all over the Chicagoland region, pleading our case for the issues we are most concerned about.
ILA also provides everyone in attendance-- library people and elected officials-- an update on all of the major state and federal legislative issues that are of particular interest to our libraries to start each session. 
So this Valentine’s Day I will be spending the early morning hours spreading a love of libraries and advocating for what is most important to us at the Tinley Park Public Library. I have the Palm Card [also linked above] to talk to all of the legislators about the big picture items and a few particular to my library issues that my director and I are going to mention specifically to our legislators. 
Obviously I realize that this event is hyper-local and doesn’t apply to the vast majority of my readers. Or does it? Why not join me? Use today and this post as the impetus for you to check out what your state library association has on their advocacy page or head over the ALA’s advocacy page, and then spend a few moments today contacting one of your representatives to advocate for a library related issue. You can click on our ILA Palm Card because it has a full report on the Federal Legislative issues too. All of you can at least do that.
Spread the library love by advocating for all of us today and continue to check in with those officials regularly, no matter if things are going well or poorly. Always advocate for libraries.

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