As Government Relations Liaison, I attended National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) in Washington D.C. Carla Myers, the winner of the ALAO National Legislative Day Travel Award, also attended the conference with the Ohio delegation. As always, I would like to extend a thank you to ALAO for supporting our travel to this important advocacy event.
On May 1, myself and Carla attended a series of day long briefings organized by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Washington Office. The briefings were held at the Liaison Hotel on New Jersey Avenue about three blocks from the U.S. Capitol Building. We were members of the Ohio delegation which was made up of 21 people that included academics, public librarians, trustees, vendors, and educational lobbyists. William Morris of the State Library of Ohio headed the state delegation and did an excellent job coordinating the state’s efforts at the conference. This year attendance at NLLD was at record levels with over 400 on site registrations supplemented by several hundred more virtual registrants. Public and school librarians made up the bulk of the attendees, with academic librarians being a clear minority with about 30 participating.
The briefings included presentations by Julie Todaro, president, ALA; Keith Michael Fields, executive director, ALA; Candice Townsend, president, District of Columbia Library Association (DCLA); and Ann Ewbank, chair, ALA Committee on Legislation. The issues covered included surveillance law reform, broadband access, net neutrality, copyright, and free access to government generated research (FASTR). As in past years, the dominant legislative issue revolved around continued direct federal funding for libraries through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program (IAL). Summaries of the issues covered at NLLD can be found off the ALA Washington Office website here. After the briefing sessions, a reception for attendees was held in the Hart Senate Office Building.
May 2 was legislative day proper and was spent entirely on Capitol Hill. In the morning, myself and the rest of the delegation met with staffers from the offices of Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH). During the afternoon, I was on the House side meeting with staffers for Representatives Bill Johnson (R-OH-6) and Jim Jordan (R-OH-4). The issues covered in the meetings included IMLS, LSTA, IAL, e-rate, FASTR, the Mararakesh copyright treaty, and depository library funding. Besides the efforts of Carla and myself, other Ohio advocates were able to get out and meet most of the state’s congressional delegation. As in past years, a big thanks needs to go out to the staff of the ALA Washington Office in organizing this grassroots NLLD event and in lobbying full time on behalf of libraries.
-Joseph Straw, Government Relations Liaison, Marietta College