Friday, March 9, 2012

NLA Adocacy Day

What a pleasure to attend an NLA Advocacy Day (formerly known as Legislative Day) without snow. The 8 AM coffee and donut hour at the state capitol was crowded with librarians, state senators and conversation. My husband, Tim, and I quickly found our District 42 senator, Tom Hansen, who also happens to be the brother of a good friend of ours. After a few minutes of trying to talk over the noise of the group, he invited us to his office to visit. Tina Walker from Mid Plains Community College joined us and we had an hour to visit with Senator Hansen about his work on the appropriations committee and the bills he was interested in this term. He promised to come in and visit our library soon. The appropriations committee had a noon meeting so he wouldn’t be able to join us for lunch. Next on the agenda was a briefing by NLA lobbyist Ken Winston, Rod Wagner and a few Nebraska Library Commissioners including Steve Batty from McCook. They encouraged us to build our users into advocates. You can start with a community group and have a member of that group help you in the planning process of how you can work together. Advocacy resources are available on both the AASL and ALA websites. I came home and found the following talking points: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/advleg/advocacyuniversity/toolkit/talkingpoints/librarysupport There was over an hour between the briefing and lunch to allow librarians to visit their senators’ offices and many did. The Omaha Public Library actually assigned their attendees 3 offices each. Most had to visit with senators’ aides as the legislature was in session. I’ve learned from the past that the aides do influence decisions so visiting with them is never a waste of time. Tim and I walked up the stairs to the chamber gallery and watched the senators in action as they discussed the merit of a child welfare bill. The luncheon at the Cornhusker hotel was jam- packed with librarians and senators slipped in as they could get away from the legislative session. We enjoyed sitting with our own RVLS Director Denise and a CCC library student, Michelle McCay-Broyles and librarians from the eastern edge of the state and their senator from Plattsmouth. The highlight for me was Ogallala library director Kendra Kaskie’s great talk on the value of a dollar invested in a library. Asking for a dollar from someone in the audience, she gave examples of the usefulness of libraries and finally when returning the dollar, she kept adding several more dollars as “return of the investment.” I hope the senators got the point. The luncheon ended with the presentation of the volunteer awards. The volunteers ranged from about 14 years old to 83 years “young” and also included an entire Friends organization. I greatly appreciated receiving a scholarship to attend this informative day. Terri Johnson, North Platte Public Library

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