As Government Relations Liaison, I attended National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) in Washington D.C. Ginny Boehme, the winner of the ALAO National Legislative Day Travel Award also attended as part of the Ohio delegation. As in prior years, I would like to extend a thank you to ALAO for supporting our travel to this important advocacy event.
On May 7, myself and Ginny attended a series of day long briefings organized by the the American Library Association’s (ALA) Washington Office. The briefings were held at the Liaison Hotel on New Jersey Avenue just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. We were members of the Ohio delegation which was made up of 17 people that included academics, public librarians, trustees, vendors, and educational lobbyists. William Morris of the State Library of Ohio headed the delegation and did an excellent job coordinating the state’s efforts at the conference. Like last year, attendance was at record levels with 475 on site registrations supplemented by several hundred more virtual registrants. Public and school librarians made up the bulk of the attendees, with academic librarians still a minority with nearly 40 participating.
The briefings including presentations by James Neal, president, ALA; Mary Ghikas, executive director, ALA; Kathi Kromer, associate executive director, ALA Washington Office; and Ellen Satterwhite, vice president, Glen Echo Group. The legislative issues nearly all revolved around federal funding for libraries, broadband access, and net neutrality. The funding issues were focused on the reauthorization of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) the agency that manages the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy Act (IAL) the only programs that provide direct federal support to libraries. Summaries of the issues covered at NLLD can be found off the ALA Washington Office website at: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/advleg/nlld . After the briefing sessions, a reception for attendees was held at the Hart Senate Office Building.
May 8 was national 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 Warren Davidson (R-OH-8). The issues covered in the meetings included continuation of the federal broadband program, the net neutrality FCC decision, IMLS, LSTA, and IAL. Besides the efforts of Ginny and myself, other Ohio delegates were able to get out and meet the state’s entire congressional delegation during the day. As in past years, a big thanks need to go out to the staff of the ALA Washington Office in organizing this grassroots event and in lobbying full time on behalf of libraries.
-Joseph Straw, Government Relations Liaison, Marietta College