First of all, thank you for going to an ILA Legislative Meet-up! I know from experience that it was an informative and rewarding use of your, your staff’s, and your trustees’ time. The Legislative Meet-ups are a coordinated effort between ILA, the ILA Advocacy Committee, and regional libraries. There are now eight across the state. The most established Legislative Breakfast in Buffalo Grove is celebrating its 28th year, while the newest, in Galesburg, is celebrating its first!
Whether you are a first time attendee or have been attending for many years, there are ways you can make the most of the experience:
- Share your stories. What impact does your library make in your community? What impact would prospective legislation have on your ability to serve your community? Give your legislators examples of the ways you benefit your population.
- Invite your Trustees and prepare them to be advocates. Legislators realize that as librarians we have a professional and personal stake in legislation affecting libraries. Trustees, as volunteers, can communicate the library’s value without a perception of bias.
- Invite staff. Advocacy isn’t just for management. If you are able to spare staff, register them too! Each staff member brings a unique perspective. Youth Services staff are great advocates who deal directly with families using the library. Technical Services staff understand the impact legislation has on access to materials and technology.
Legislators benefit from the meet-ups as well. Watch this video by Advocacy Committee Co-Chairs Celeste Choate and Denise Raleigh to hear Illinois State Senators Pat McGuire and Scott M. Bennett discuss the importance of these meet-ups.
Ways to stay connected after the Meet-up:
- Follow up with your representatives and thank them for attending. While they will already be receiving thank yous from the Meet-up coordinators, that extra acknowledgment of appreciation can go a long way! Didn’t have an opportunity to share a great story or photo with your legislator? Now’s your chance!
- Join the Legislative Action Network – Sign up here. You will only be notified when it is time to contact your representative to take action on a specific piece of library-related legislation.
- Keep abreast with developing legislation. The ILA website is an excellent source of information and resources regarding advocacy. The ILA Legislative Issues page contains current information to help you stay informed.
- Volunteer! Submit your name to volunteer for the ILA Advocacy Committee. The Legislative Meet-up Coordinators always welcome extra help, too. Helping with a Legislative Meet-up often means making phone calls to regional libraries and representatives. The Advocacy Committee can help connect you with your region’s Coordinator.
- by Kate KiteMSLIS, Research and Instruction Librarian, Teen Services,Six Mile Regional Library District–Johnson Road