Federal Advocacy and How to Get Involved

Introduction

The Washington Office offers a variety of information resources about current federal issues that impact libraries. Each resource contains much of the same information and you can choose to access one or more of them to suit your needs. A description of the resources follows below along with how best to utilize them.

This guide was drafted by ALA's Committee on Legislation's Grassroots Subcommittee and ad hoc group (April 6, 2007) and can also be downloaded as a PDF file.

Resources

Arrange a Congressional Visit to Your Library

District Dispatch View press releases, library news, and all vital information from the Washington Office.

Legislative Action Center Click on the alert of your choice and view the text of the alert. You can copy the text of the alert into your email, but be sure to type in a personalized story or description about how the legislation you are writing about impacts your library.

National Library Legislative Day Come to Washington, D.C., and join hundreds of library supporters from across the country visiting Members of Congress. Share stories about libraries in your community and tell your Congressmen and women about the needs and accomplishments of those libraries.

Online Training with Advocacy Stephanie Vance  Webinars are available, providing an indispensable way to learn about advocacy from one of the experts in the field. Each webinar is about a half-hour long and focuses on a different aspect of advocacy. Ms. Vance has more than 15 years of experience in Washington, both as a lobbyist and a Congressional aide, holding positions such as legislative assistant, legislative director and staff director for various members of Congress.

Getting Started

Step 1: Start advocating today 
Send your members of Congress an email from ALA’s Legislative Action Center. The Action Center is a central location where you can review updates about federal issues and then immediately email Congress to urge them to support libraries. This is an easy way for new and veteran advocates to get involved immediately.

You can also call, email, or fax your member of Congress’s office. Any method you use to contact Congress is fine as long as you are speaking out for libraries; however, do not send Congress a letter using “snail mail.” The new mail review process will prevent letters sent using the postal service from reaching the office in a timely manner. Before you contact your representatives' office, be sure to check this helpful document, The Top 10 Things Elected Officials and Their Staff Hate to Hear (pdf).

Step 2: National Library Legislative Day
Participate in National Library Legislative Day! This annual event held in Washington, D.C., is a time for library advocates to meet with their Senators and Representatives to tell them about the great things happening at their library. Do budget or schedule constraints prevent you from making the trip to DC? Then organize a Virtual Library Legislative Day from your home state.