Build Relationships

Our local, state, and federal officials depend on feedback from their constituents to successfully craft and pass legislation. Given the wide variety of issues that affect libraries of all kinds, it is more important than ever before to educate policymakers on the real-life impact of proposed legislation. While developing positions on pending legislation, elected officials listen closely to the constituents whom they know and trust. As such, it is useful to build solid relationships with your elected officials before legislation is considered.

The First Five Steps
Building strong relationships takes time and persistence. Here are the first five steps you should take to kick-start your connections with your elected officials:

  1. Use ALA's Legislative Action Center to identify key legislative leaders with whom you should build relationships.
  2. 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.
  3. Connect with your local advocacy coordinator. They are responsible for coordinating and communicating local activities in your community and will help to ensure consistency in the message and to avoid duplication of effort.
  4. Attend regular town halls and local community events.
  5. Offer your space and invite them in! It's important to bring your legislative leaders into your facilities. Many libraries have a meeting, event, and display spaces they can make available to elected officials. 

What Happens After Election Day
ALA traditionally sends a letter to every new legislative leader and member of Congress to introduce ourselves and share our vision for libraries across the country. The upcoming election will be the most closely watched political moment in years. As we approach November 6, stay tuned to this space for updated materials you can send to your newly elected or returning officials after election day.

  • Template Welcome Letter [2019 Link to Come]