One exciting task of the Advocacy Committee is heading to the state capitol to distribute Library Day prints to all of our legislators and share with them the fantastic work of ALL libraries in Georgia. While we won’t be able to head to the capitol in person, we still need our legislators to hear from GLA members. There are lots of things we need for them to be thinking about when it comes to Georgia Libraries.
This year, our legislators will still receive Library Day prints. The 2021 print depicts a scene from Jack Hill State Park (formerly Gordonia-Alatamaha State Park). Senator Hill was a long-time supporter of Georgia’s Public Libraries and led the way in providing state matching funds for many new and renovated libraries. The prints are a collaborative advocacy effort between GLA, GA Council, GPLS and Gale. We want to thank Gale for their continued support of this effort over the years and making these prints possible. While it is sad that GLA members are not able to personally distribute prints and messages to legislators, the Library Day prints and messages will still be impactful! Read about GLA’s 2020 distribution of the prints for more details about this collaboration.
Since we cannot have a GLA Members day at the Capitol this year, we are asking that GLA members make contact with legislators (email, phone, social media, letter) the week of February 15th. Working together, we can amplify the message!
Legislative contact can be intimidating and overwhelming. The steps below can help you frame your message, all leading up to a week of legislative contact, the week of February 15th.
Step 1: Identify the desired outcome.
This could be legislation, funding, or simply visibility. What are you advocating for? Jot down some thoughts and craft a couple of sentences. This will be how you begin your message.
Not sure what outcome you want? Here are a few asks concerning libraries right now.
- Support the FY22 Budget for Public Libraries (State Issue, Georgia General Assembly). This includes capital outlay projects, major repair and renovation (MRR), technology enhancements, and materials funding. You may have a specific project that is important to your community. If not, asking for general support of the funding is okay. If you have a project on this year’s list, you’ll want to ask your senators and representatives to write to their respective appropriations chairs. If you do not, it would be most helpful if your legislators would write in support of MRR, technology enhancement funding, and the materials grant. Major repair and renovation (MRR) projects in libraries allow communities to maintain and update their investments in library facilities. The guidance of GPLS Library Planning and Facilities ensures the efficient and effective use of these important funds. GPLS maintains a running list of critical projects including roof replacement/repair, HVAC systems, and health and safety upgrades.
- Broadband connectivity and access to technology are more important today than ever. Five-year bond funds for library technology enhancements will allow our libraries to support students, job seekers, and remote workers in every county in Georgia.
- Libraries are grateful for the efforts of the House and Senate to build the library materials grant, which provides funds for every library to purchase books, e-books, databases, and other library materials. From picture books which build literacy and support K-12 curriculum to materials that support job seekers and adults changing careers, libraries are busier than ever, while struggling with the increasing costs of e-books and print materials. The materials grant is currently $0.35 per capita. The Senate passed their version of the amended FY21 budget, and transmitted it back to the House. The Senate version contains the increase to $.40 per capita for library materials. Please advocate for the increase in the FY22 Budget.
- As the general assembly prioritizes support for K-12 and higher education, we urge lawmakers to include libraries as a key component of Georgia’s educational infrastructure. As the one place that everyone can go to learn, libraries serve a key role in educating all who wish to learn. Librarians and library workers, just as teachers and school staff, continue to serve on the front lines in every community.
- Our public libraries play a key role in maintaining the fiscal health of our state, by supporting the development of a skilled, labor-ready workforce. Public libraries are one of the only free places to fill out an online job application. Countless Georgians use library technology, resources, and professional assistance to gain the foundational skills necessary for today’s workforce and to reach their educational and economic goals.
- Prioritize Librarians and Library Workers in Vaccination Plans (GaDPH Issue). GLA President, Wendy Cornelisen sent a letter to the Georgia Department of Public Health, urging the inclusion of librarians and library staff in Phase 1B for COVID vaccinations. Please read our statement on the GLA Website for more information.
- Build America’s Libraries Act of 2021 (Federal Issue). Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), has formally introduced the Build America’s Libraries Act of 2021 (S. 127) into the new Congress. This bill would provide $5 billion in funding to repair, modernize, and construct library facilities in underserved and marginalized communities.
- Save Education Jobs Act of 2021 (Federal Issue). Re-introduced is the Save Education Jobs Act (H.R. 542), by Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT-5). This legislation aims to save roughly 4 million education-related jobs (including school librarians), stimulate economic growth in our current pandemic and ongoing economic crisis, and ensure that students are receiving the best possible learning in the midst of our new virtual schooling environment.
Step 2: Create a personal message of why the issue is important.
This is a great time to personalize your message, including personal stories, feedback, and outcomes from your own work/life experience. Jot down some thoughts and craft a couple of sentences. This will be the next part of your message, following the issue.
Not sure what to share? Here is a suggested framework for a story.
- What’s the problem?
- What can/did the library do?
- End result
- Connect it to a library stat
Example: Many people in my community do not have access to computers and the internet. Without access, activities such as filing taxes, applying for jobs and attending school (during times of digital learning) can be an obstacle. The library is able to provide free access to computers and wifi, which is often available 24 hours and can be accessed from the parking lot. In FY19, Georgia Libraries provided 4,824,449 wireless sessions to the people of Georgia.
Step 3: Define the Call to Action
This is the part of your message when you define what you want to see happen. A great way to start this part of the message is with “We need you to…”. Look back at your issue. The issue will help define the call to action.
Looking at your issue, complete the sentence “We need you to….”
Step 4: Who are you writing to?
Look back at your issue and call to action and determine your audience. Is it a state issue? Federal issue? Does the call to action ask for a vote? Support? Once you know who, make sure you get their email, physical address, twitter handle, etc.
We are asking that GLA members make contact with legislators (email, phone, social media, letter) the week of February 15th. Working together, we can amplify the message!
If you have any questions or ideas about Advocacy, please reach out to the GLA Advocacy Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. Advocacy takes a lot of member effort and we are always looking for committee members.
Advocacy Committee Chair
Georgia legislature photo from https://georgia.gov/ . Posted by Tim Wojcik.