Joseph Straw, Marietta College
As government Relations Liaison, I represented ALAO at National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) in Washington D.C. We we were fortunate this year to have Missy Creed the winner of the ALAO Legislative Day Travel Award attend the conference with the Ohio delegation. I would like to extend a thank you to ALAO for supporting our travel to this important event.
On May 5, myself and Missy attended a useful set of briefings organized by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Washington Office. We attended the briefings as part of the Ohio delegation which was made of nine people made up of academics, public librarians, and lobbyists from library affiliated groups. William Morris of the State Library of Ohio headed the state delegation and did an excellent job in distributing informational packets and arranging meetings with congressional staffers. The attendance of academic librarians was up from last year with close to 20 in attendance. Still, the overwhelming majority of the over 300 attendees came from public and school libraries.
The briefings included presentations by Barbara Stripling, president, ALA; Keith Michael Fields, executive director, ALA; Amanda Wilson, president, District of Columbia Library Association (DCLA); and Senator Angus King (I-ME). Many of the presentations focused on broad issues like access, e-books, telecommunications, net neutrality, and funding for library based literacy initiatives. Some of the specific legislative focus highlighted continued funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), open access to federally funded research as provided in the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), and the USA Freedom Act that amends some of the privacy and phone data collection practices of the Patriot Act. Summaries and talking points for all the issues covered at NLLD can be found at the ALA Washington Office website at: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/advleg/nlld .
After the briefing sessions, a reception was held by ALA in the Hart Senate Office Building for Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT) and Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI-5)honoring them for leadership, support, and legislative advocacy. Senator Leahy was present for the honor, while a staffer accepted the award for Representative Sensenbrenner. During the award presentation, particular emphasis was paid for their recent bi-partisan support for the USA Freedom Act.
May 6 was legislative day proper and was occupied by activities on Capitol Hill. The day began with the Ohio delegation meeting for a strategizing breakfast in the cafeteria of the Longworth House Office Building. During the day, I met with staffers for Representatives Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-2), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9), Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), and Bill Johnson (R-OH-6). The issues that were discussed included LSTA, FASTR, the USA Freedom Act, Net Neutrality, E-Rate, and funding for the Federal Depository Library Program. Later in the afternoon, myself and most of the delegation met with a senior staffer for Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)and talked on many of the same issues. Other advocates from the state went individually and together and hit a large portion of Ohio’s congressional delegation.
Certainly it felt good to join together with other librarians and advocates to make our voices heard through the forum of the NLLD event. I will continue to monitor these issues as they progress through the legislative process. Without question a major thanks needs to be extended to the ALA Washington Office for their great work on putting together the conference and in representing the interests of the library profession on a full-time basis.