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 elected officials and their staff understand the connections between national policy issues and what’s happening in their district. And they don’t have to be an arduous undertaking. (Also available as Word document.)

Federal Advocacy Resources and How to Get Involved 
The Washington Office offers a variety of information resources about current federal issues that impact libraries. A description of the resources follows below along with how best to utilize them.

Getting Involved
The Washington Office believes that getting involved is the best way to make a difference. Whether you're a librarian, a business, or a concerned citizen, there are many ways to make your views known to legislators on Capitol Hill.

How to Use Engage: A Legislative Action Center Tutorial 

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. "Libraries: The Place of Opportunity" includes 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. (Also available as a Word document.)

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 document

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 PDF or Word document

Washington Office Online Advocacy
Online advocacy resources including webinars.

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 document