HSLI Newsletter

Serving Illinois Health Information Professionals

Overview of 2014 Advocacy Events

Here is an overview of recent and upcoming advocacy events at the state and federal levels.
Legislative Meet-Ups-During February, meetings with legislators were held in four locations, including Lockport, Oak Brook, and Edwardsville. These meetings grew out of the annual Presidents’ Day breakfast, which is held in the northwestern suburbs. The meet-ups were intended as an opportunity for library advocates from various backgrounds (library administrators, professional librarians, support staff, and library trustees) to come together and communicate directly with legislators and their staffs.
The meetings were considered a success, with a large turnout and numerous opportunities for networking. More importantly, the meet-ups gave attendees the opportunity to communicate directly to their elected officials the importance of libraries and the necessity of continuing funding at at least current levels.
At this point, legislative meet-ups for 2015 have not yet been scheduled. (Holding legislative meet-ups in 2014 was of greater urgency because of the approaching end to the current legislative session.) Information on future meet-ups, and other advocacy events at the Illinois level, can be found in the “Advocacy” menu on the Illinois Library Association’s website (www.la.org).
National Library Legislative Day-This year’s National Library Legislative Day, the American Library Association’s annual advocacy event at the federal level, was held on May 5 and 6, 2014. This was the 40th year the event has been held. The focus of this year’s gathering was on federal funding for libraries across the country. Over 420 librarians, adult patrons, and teenagers and their parents met in person with members of Congress to emphasize the ongoing importance of libraries and the necessity of Congressional support on particular key issues. Additional advocates who could not make the trip to Washington contacted their legislators via phone, e-mail, and social media.
Among the specific legislative initiatives discussed was the necessity of maintaining current funding levels for the Library Services and Technology Act, especially with the Act being up for renewal next year. Other issues that were emphasized included continuing funding for Innovative Approaches to Literacy, which is an initiative benefiting school libraries, and securing re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which is a significant source of funding for school libraries. More importantly, attendees reiterated the importance of libraries to users who rely on them for job searches, homework assistance, and access to reading materials that would otherwise be beyond their reach.
On a lighter note, one of the activities during the event was a dance rally, sponsored by the North Carolina Library Association, that took place in front of the Capitol. Dozens of student ambassadors from kindergarten through twelfth grade participated in a flash-mob dance. Here is a link to a video: http://youtu.be/iPxDSmXnhN4.
The next Legislative Day will take place from May 4 to May 5, 2015, on Capitol Hill.  To check for updates, go to http://www.ala.org/advocacy/advleg/nlld.

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