Joseph Straw, Marietta College
As Government Relations Liaison, I represented ALAO at National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) in Washington D.C. In attending NLLD for the first time, I would like to thank ALAO for supporting my travel to this event.
To get my bearings, I attended a NLLD Pre-Conference at the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office on May 6. The highlight was a presentation by Stephanie Vance from Advocacy Associates who shared tips on meeting productively with legislators. Ted Wegner and Lynne Bradley at ALA also gave brief talks on grassroots advocacy and using the resources of the Washington Office. These preliminaries provided some useful information and set the stage for the days to come.
Most of May 7 was spent in an excellent series of briefings organized by the ALA Washington Office. I attended the briefings as part of the the Ohio delegation of over a dozen mostly public librarians. William Morris of the State Library of Ohio headed the state delegation and did a good job in arranging meetings with congressional staff and providing legislative packets to the advocates. Well over 300 participants took part in these sessions most of them from public and school libraries.
The briefing presentations included talks by Maureen Sullivan, president, ALA; Keith Michael Fields, executive director, ALA; Lee Raine, director, Pew Research Center; Rich Stombres, vice president, Penn Hill Group, and many others. Perhaps the highlight was the summary from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project that conducted a series of surveys in public libraries and found favorable perceptions of librarians, attachment to the library as place, the emergence of libraries as community technology hubs, and a favorable public climate for support of libraries. A good clearinghouse for the Pew studies is available at: http://libraries.pewinternet.org/.
Of interest to academic librarians were a number of presentations dealing with access, e-books, telecommunications, privacy, and copyright.
The highlight might of been the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act of 2013 or FASTR. This bill provides for an open access protocol to federally funded research and has strong support from ALA and bi-partisan backing in both houses of Congress. Summaries and talking points for the all the issues covered at NLLD can be found at the ALA Washington Office website: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/advleg/nlld.
May 7 was legislative day proper and was occupied with visits on Capitol Hill. I met and had an extended talk with a staffer for Congressman Bill Johnson on the FASTR bill, e-books, and funding for the Federal Depository Library Program. Later, I met with a staffer from Senator Sherrod Browns office and talked on many of the same issues. Other advocates from the state went individually or together and hit a large portion of Ohio’s congressional delegation.
Certainly it felt good to make my voice 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 thank you needs to be extended to the ALA Washington Office for their great work in representing the interests of the broader library profession on a full-time basis.