The week of May 4, State Librarian Joan Clark, Citizen Advocate Megan Sterling, and AzLA Legislative Chair Kathy Husser traveled to Washington, D.C., for National Library Legislative Day. The event focused on nationwide advocacy for our libraries, and each state had representation present to meet with individual lawmakers.
The Arizona delegation was able to meet with staff from seven of the eight House districts and both Senators. ALA had a preliminary “Legislation 101” session the day before, to focus on pending bills and potential legislation of interest to the library profession. Funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) was discussed, and many Arizona success stories were shared. The upcoming vote on the 2015 Freedom Act and citizens’ right to privacy in their public and academic library spaces was also noted during the visits. Both initiatives were endorsed by ALA, and the Arizona delegation encouraged a “yes” vote when the session reconvened.
The modernization of E-rate rules, net neutrality protection, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) affecting school librarians were also touched upon during the one-on-one dialogue. The conversations went very well. Arizona libraries received positive feedback from the lawmakers’ staff, not only on the work we are doing in our different communities, but also regarding how libraries can help the Representatives with legislation using library resources and established community connections. An open invitation to host the lawmakers’ constituency meetings at their district libraries was also encouraged.