Working with Elected Officials

ALA Congressional Tour Toolkit
Elected officials and their staff spend a great deal of time in the districts they represent. Library visits are the single best way to help them understand the connections between national policy issues and what’s happening in their district. And they don’t have to be an arduous undertaking. Available as Word doc.

Federal Advocacy Resources and How to Get Involved 
The Washington Office offers a variety of information resources about current federal issues that impact libraries.

Congressional Management Foundation Videos
The Congressional Management Foundation, an organization that works directly with Members of Congress and staff to enhance their operations and interactions with constituents, has partnered with ALA to provide eight training videos, covering everything from Congress 101 to hosting district events. ALA member resource only; select the video and login to view.

  1. District Events Members of Congress Will Want to Attend
  2. The Value of Personalizing and Localizing Messages to Congress
  3. Strategies for Building Relationships with Lawmakers Back Home
  4. Effective Stories to Share with Lawmakers
  5. District Directors "Do's" and "Don'ts" of District Activity
  6. What Congress is Looking for in Constituent Communication
  7. How to Connect to Congress via Social Media
  8. Congress 101: an Insider View of Capitol Hill

Spark Advocacy Videos
ALA joined the Harry Potter Alliance in launching Spark, an eight-part video series developed to support and guide first-time advocates who are interested in advocating at the federal level for issues that matter to them. The series, targeted to viewers aged 13-22, is hosted by Jackson Bird.

Libraries: The Place of Opportunity
Ensuring that librarians deliver quality services to the public impacts many issues. For this reason, the Washington Office offers this helpful guide to highlight these issues for non-librarian audiences, including information on how library users can join our efforts to build coalitions and promote the role libraries play in our communities.

Planning your Legislative Outreach: Legislative Action Schedule & Know Your Legislator Worksheet
As with most things, timing is everything. To be effective, you must familiarize yourself with the various stages of the legislative process. This file helps you to determine when is the best time in the legislative process to perform specific advocacy-related tasks. Available as a Word doc.

Shaping Your Message: Information for Legislative Advocate
Library advocates must be able to articulate issues in a way that transcends partisan politics, acknowledges economic realities, and positions libraries as part of the solution to larger problems. Available as PDF or Word doc.

The Top Ten Things Elected Officials and Their Staff Hate to Hear
All policymakers and his or her staff have tales to tell about their, well, “interesting” meetings - like those advocates who start their pitch with, “you never agree with me and always take money from the other side.  I don’t even know why I’m here.  But do you think you could vote for this legislation?  What if I paid for your vote with a big campaign contribution?”  With a few notable exceptions, that approach is likely to get you shown to the door – and quick. To be effective, it’s critically important to know what NOT to say to elected officials and their staff.  Some of these tips may be surprising! Available as a Word doc.

Working with Legislators & Decision-makers: Tips for Success
Tips on working with legislators, visits, letters, telephone calls, and working with decision-makers. Available as a PDF or Word doc.