January 24, 2009

Advocacy Session with Stephanie Vance and ALA Washington Office staff

Advocacy session
Originally uploaded by curtis rogers
Washington Office Breakout Session - Getting our Message to the New Congress & White House: Federal Advocacy Training

Highlights from this session were:

Lynne Bradley from the ALA WO introduced Stephanie Vance who conducted the session.

Over 50% of Americans have tried to communicate with their elected officials.
66% of those hoped to get a response.
only 20% were satisfied their responses.

Rule of thumb: If you send a form letter, you get a form letter back but if you send a personalized letter you usually get a personalized letter back and it’s this kind of personalized communication that is more important than just using form letters to communicate with your legislators.

76% of states have a budget gap that they are facing for 2009.

Libraries were mentioned 3 times in the Obama/Biden policy documents. This needs to be more.

The overall debt of the US is 10 Trillion dollars. ($34,000 per person).

Many people don’t understand the basic tenet of contacting their own legislators and not others from other states.

Economic Recovery Goals
immediate action to create good jobs in america
immediate relief for struggling families
immediate assistance for homeowners
rapid aggressive response regarding the economic situation

How can libraries help with reaching these goals?

Exercise: create a one minute speech to meet these goals of economic recovery:

“My fellow Americans, Libraries ARE places where you can check out books, but that’s not ALL! Libraries are job centers offering resume writing opportunities, places where families can bring their children to learn and understand the world around them. Libraries are places to go when times are tough to learn how to make this country a better place for everyone!”

It’s important to explain to legislators why cuts to libraries would only continue to hurt the public.

Issues over lead in children’s books (use as example)

When talking to legislators:

You have to know what you want
you have to be prepared to ask for specifics
you have to be prepared to ask what the politician can do about it
know who you are talking to
know what your legislators are interested so you can relate your issue to them
go to www.congress.gov to look up your representatives and see what bills they have introduced to see what their interests are
recognize the value of their concerns
google the politician’s name with the word library or libraries
know how to talk to them
build coalitions and have the same message
need to have personal and compelling stories
good idea to have some stats but make sure they are related to that politician’s district
know how to follow up

ALA Washington Office can help! Sign up for District Dispatch.


Develop a calendar of activities for 2009 and figure out how you can connect library issues with advocacy issues.

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