Welcome to “Get Legislators in Your Library!” An ALA Washington, Office Webinar Topics About the webinar Why district visits are important Basic online information Basic legalities Addressing barriers to participation What advocates need to know to set up winning site visits Who’s Talking? Who’s Talking? About the Webinar What’s happening? Muting and Q&A Polls Follow-up Materials and Recording – Available on ALA’s District Dispatch at http://wo.ala.org/districtdispatch Where are we starting from? Let’s go to the poll… Why Are Site Visits Important? DC Style Always “on” Non-stop voting, meetings and receptions Likely living in less comfortable quarters May not be with family Why Are Site Visits Important? HomeStyle More relaxed More personable More comfortable Often with family What Does This Mean? Visiting with elected officials in their districts is ALWAYS a good use of time… Basic Online Information Who are my elected officials? – When are the recesses (a.k.a. district work periods) – – – Who should I contact and how? House Senate General Do my elected officials have events scheduled? Basic Legalities Advocacy vs. Lobbying Are you a public employee? What are the requirements in your state? What are the federal requirements? To be on the safe side… Playing it Safe Playing nice with others Non-legislative asks (i.e., “education” vs. “lobbying”) Better to ask forgiveness than permission? Barriers to Action Let’s go to the poll! Choose as many as apply Possible Barrier: It’s Too Hard (or, the corollary, I’m Not Sure What to Do!) Answer: Resources, resources, resources Making it Easier: Build on Existing Events A few examples from the library world – – – Uinta Public Library Anderson County Library System University of Nebraska Omaha Who wants to be next? What are members of Congress up to? – Check on townhall meeting schedules Existing Events: Hosting a Townhall at your Library What is a “townhall?” – – How do they take place? – – – Working with legislator Independent In-person Virtual Telephone How do you do it? – General overview Townhall checklist Making it Easier: Use Every Resource at Your Disposal No need to reinvent the wheel: ALA online site visit information ALA Advocacy Institute Visit template Article on effective meetings Assistance from ALA Check in with your State Organization Members of Congress are Scary and Unresponsive Answer: Approach them appropriately Appropriate Approach: Invite the Staff DC and/or district staff are great for “starter” visits. Why? – – Easier to arrange Staff can become advocates within the office for your cause Appropriate Approach: Show them the Benefits Why would they want to come? – What’s “in it” for them? How can you be flexible? What are the alternatives? – – Hint: puppies and children are always good draws Statement to read “Virtual” participation Following up after a cancellation Appropriate Approach: Engage the Media After confirming with the elected official, call local media outlets and let them know: Who is coming. When they are coming. Why he/she is coming. How this story will inform/interest their readership/viewers. Contact Jenni Terry, press officer for the ALA Washington Office ([email protected]; 202-4038208), for assistance with contacting your local media. Be sure to work in TANDEM with the legislator – don’t surprise them with the press! It Doesn’t Make a Difference Answer: Your Power as Constituents Your Power as Constituents: Examples Recent surveys point to the power of in-district activity – CMF The Congressional Record doesn’t lie… Always Bear in Mind… Fewer quality contacts are far superior, in terms of impact on elected officials, than “quantity” contacts. Focus on getting just a few visits this recess – then a few more – then a few more. Pretty soon you’ll have dozens scheduled every recess! The Five Minute Action Plan What will you do next? Be sure to let ALA know if you’ve scheduled any visits! Questions?