Build Relationships

Effective advocacy begins with strong relationships with a variety of people, including elected officials and their staffs, community influencers, and even the local media. Your library supporters can help connect you to these groups, so it is equally important to nurture and grow your network of library advocates. Here are some ways to get started.

At the local level:

  • Do your homework. Learn who your local officials are and learn their issues. How does your library intersect with their issues?
  • Invite local decision-makers and influencers, as well as legislators into your library. Highlight the positive things you are doing for your community, campus or school. Arrange photo-opportunities and invite the local press. Read about arranging a Congressional tour.
  • Stay involved in your community. Attend regular town halls and local community events. Attend meetings on campus and in school.

.At the state level:

  • Work with your state association. They are responsible for coordinating statewide legislative-agendas and will help to ensure consistency in your messaging and avoid any duplication of effort.
  • The National Conference of State Legislatures compiles information on legislative sessions in each state, district, and territory here.
  • Stay in touch. Sign up on your policymakers' websites to receive regular email updates and invites to local events. It is a critical way to stay up-to-date with their messaging and activity. 

At the federal level:

  • Use ALA's Action Center to identify and reach out to your elected officials.
  • Welcoming the 116th Congress
    ALA sends a letter to every new legislative leader and member of Congress to introduce ourselves and share our vision for libraries. Stay tuned to this space for updated materials you can send to your newly elected or returning officials: 
    Template Welcome Letter [2019 Link to Come]

Congressional Management Foundation Resources
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 training videos, covering everything from Congress 101 to hosting district events. Because of the Congressional Management Foundation licensing, this is an 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 "Dos" 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