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Advocacy for Our Profession
Legislative Day April 28, 2015
From Left to Right: LeeAnna Mills, Nicole McMickens, Shera Stinson and Meg Brooke
Legislative Day April 28, 2015 From Left to Right: LeeAnna Mills, Nicole McMickens, Shera Stinson and Meg Brooke

Contact your legislators!  To find their contact information click here.

This allows you to put in your zip code and identify your legislators.  If you call and do not get the legislator, please leave a message as they do keep up with contacts and issues discussed. Please ask your parents, volunteers and faculty members as well to speak on behalf of your library program.  Some suggestions follow.

We hope that you will take the following talking points and create a script or document that reflects you personally and your experiences. We all have different stories but they all revolve around the same themes. Also, as fellow member Ann Marie Pipkin posted, we need to make it a habit to contact our legislators at least once a year, preferably twice. Fall and spring are good times to do this so that we may develop relationships with them and keep them informed of our needs and benefits our school libraries are for our students and learning communities. Remember, you do not have to use all of the suggestions. Try to make them reflect your situations as that is what ultimately makes connections with our legislators, especially involving our students and their needs.

· Please thank them for their service and their support and later ask them to show their support as they fund school libraries and the AVL.

· Mention the AVL and what an invaluable resource it is to our students and the whole state and how it provides equal access to information.

· Teacher/Librarians, school librarians, library media specialists...whatever you choose to go by...teach information literacy skills and help our students prepare to compete in a 21st century world. We provide access to resources and materials that may not be available anywhere else to our students.  This is difficult to do without resources.

Please keep your focus on how we affect the students, faculty and our learning communities! Also, it would be a good idea to invite them to visit your library; I heard recently that most administrators and probably our legislators' picture school libraries as they were when they went to school. We have come such a long, long way, and we need to educate others as to what school libraries are really like today.

How do I get started?

1. Learn who represents you and how to contact them.

- State information: http://www.legislature.state.al.us/ (Read bios to see what legislation they have introduced and supported.)
- ALA has great resources.
- Capwiz will notify you when you need to make contacts. http://capwiz.com/ala/home 
- ALA's Stephanie Vance (known as the Advocacy Guru) has resources on these sites. http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/?p=406 AND http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/?p=452

2. Become an advocate.

- Learn about the issues (ASLA, ALMO, ALA websites)
- Create a one pager, highlighting your issue, your library, your programs, and your resources.
- Brainstorm your personal stories. Be sure to include these in meetings to help to make you more memorable.
- Use the library funding letter provided graciously by Jane Smith for our use. Please feel free to adjust and personalize the letter as you see fit and send it to your legislators, and anyone else who will listen today!  You can click this link, or access it under Membership Resources.

3. Coordinate and communicate your message.

- Local to state and state to federal
- Ways to contact in order of effectiveness:
    - Phone calls (OK to leave message with secretary)
    - Emails/Faxes
    - Letters-on Federal level to District office
- Always follow up. This is a good chance to thank them.
- Remember: PERSISTANCE is key!

4. What we do and have done in the past:

- Annual Legislative Day in the spring (Travel to State House and go in person to meet with Legislators to ask them to support issues that are important to us.)
- National Legislative Day (Usually we participate in this virtually.)
- Host or co-host reception honoring Legislators.
- Present books or other tokens to our Legislators.

5. Possible ways to build relationships:

- Meet with them in person if all possible/use connections!
- Begin writing or emailing on a regular basis. Be sure to thank them for serving the public.
- Invite them to your library.
- Host receptions for legislators simultaneously throughout the state.