Sunday, May 26, 2013

Advocacy in D.C.

On May 7- 8, 2013, hundreds of library supporters from all across the country convened in Washington DC for National Library Legislative Day. They were briefed on legislative issues affecting libraries and met with their members of Congress to discuss them.  Massachusetts Libraries were well represented on Capitol Hill.  A number of MA librarians brought our message to our Congressional delegation.  For the first time, the Western Massachusetts Library Advocates (WMLA) sponsored an advocate of our own.  Betty Johnson, Colrain, reports on her trip to our nation’s capital:
It was a great opportunity.  There were 4 of us from Massachusetts-in the photograph, Julie Farrell, Library Media Specialist-Overlook Middle School, Ashburnham; Betty Johnson, Director-Griswold Memorial Library, Colrain; Senator Elizabeth Warren; Cindy Roach, MBLC-Head of Library Advisory and Development; Dianne Carty, MBLC-Acting Director.
We had individual appointments with all the Massachusetts legislative delegation.  Most of the visits were with Aides but they were very receptive to our requests.  LSTA funding was the major talking point.  With sequestration the funding level is down of course and will affect the number of grants that the MBLC is able to award.  ALA is asking for LSTA funding to return to the 2010 level.  Julie spoke to the legislators about school issues as she was representing the MSLA.  We wholeheartedly thanked the legislators for all their support of libraries.  Cindy said our delegation is very supportive. 
My husband and I drove down on Monday and stayed at the Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University.  A shuttle bus went back and forth from the university to Union Station all day, so it was very convenient.  I was able to visit the Martin Luther King Memorial and the Library of Congress building.  The Library is beautiful if you ever get a chance to see it.
On Tuesday morning there was a conference meeting at The Liaison Capitol Hill with a delicious continental breakfast.  Many states had much bigger groups of librarians represented.  After a lunch at the Billy Goat Tavern, our group met with several Congressional Aides and ended our day with a reception in the Hart Senate building.
On Wednesday, it was very exciting to visit the House and Senate Office buildings. We met with the rest of the Congressional Aides and actually had the chance to speak to Congresswoman Tsongas and Congressman Keating.  We had lunch at the Tortilla Coast, and ended the day with the Meet and Greet with Senator Warren. Our meet and greet with Senator Warren was in the Visitor's Center of the Capitol Building.
Thursday we drove home to the real world. 
Here is a link to handouts and information covered in the briefing on Tuesday:

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