Our Advocacy Toolkit is designed to help AALL members effectively advocate for themselves and their profession. Divided into issue areas and skill sets, the Toolkit will help you become familiar with AALL's information policy priorities and teach the tips you need to make a difference for law libraries at the federal and state levels. Whether you're new to advocacy or a seasoned veteran, this Toolkit has something for you.
Table of Contents:
1.0 Getting Started
1.1 Why Advocate
1.2 Meet the Advocacy Team
2.0 Know the Issues
2.1 Federal Issues
2.2 State Issues
2.3 Recent Successes
3.0 Make Your Case
3.1 Communicating with Congress
3.2 Acting at the State Level
3.3 Getting Your Message in the Media
4.0 Join Us!
5.0 Further Reading
AALL voices the needs and interests of law librarians at the national, state, local and international levels on timely policy issues including copyright; equitable, no-fee permanent public access to authentic online legal information; open government; and privacy. But no one knows the issues that impact law libraries across the country better than law librarians themselves.
As a constituent of your elected officials, you hold the power and authority to influence your legislators’ opinions. After all, you’re responsible for re-electing them! Your lawmakers want to know what you think about issues that impact law libraries and it's your responsibility to help them understand the issues that matter most. Make your voice heard and help to influence the policies that affect you.
Meet the Advocacy Team
AALL’s Advocacy Team is comprised of passionate members around the country who are committed to helping influence policy at the federal and state levels. In Washington, D.C., AALL’s Government Relations Office (GRO) supports the work of members on information policy issues by acting as the face of the Association to Congress, the administration, and other government officials. Many AALL chapters also have active government relations programs. Advocacy activities are set in accordance with AALL's Government Relations Policy and in consultation with the Copyright Committee, Digital Access to Legal Information Committee, Government Relations Committee, and, where necessary or appropriate, the President or Executive Board of the Association.
Please read on to learn more about what you can do to promote AALL's policy priorities and become an effective member of our Advocacy Team.
Know the Issues
AALL advocates on many critical information policy issues, including appropriations for the Government Printing Office and Library of Congress, copyright, freedom of information, net neutrality, open government, and privacy. The Government Relations Office frequently meets with Congressional staff, the White House and agency officials to influence our federal policy priorities. Recently, we’ve had a seat at the table in conversations and decisions about records management, Section 108 of the Copyright Act, the Freedom of Information Act and more. While the GRO lobbies on these important issues, we rely on our members to add their voices and personal stories. The following resources will help you gain the knowledge you need to be an effective advocate at the federal level.
AALL works with chapters and individuals to ensure greater access to government information at the state level. For example, we recently worked with the Law Library Association of Maryland (LLAM) and the Maryland State Working Group to stop the proposed elimination of the official print Maryland Register in favor of access through a fee-based e-subscription only. AALL also collaborated successfully with Southern New England Law Librarians Association (SNELLA) to stop plans to close Connecticut courthouse libraries. In April 2012, Colorado became the first state to enact the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA), a priority issue of AALL. Read on for information on the issues AALL has taken on in the states.
Several recent examples illustrate the importance of AALL members’ participation in our efforts. For example, in the 112th Congress, your calls and emails helped kill the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) and Protect IP Act (S. 968), which threatened free speech, free expression and the freedom of the Internet. Your letters also helped stop the Research Works Act and expanded support for the Federal Research Public Access Act (S. 2096 and H.R. 4004) to expand access to federally-funded research. Read on for more examples of the great work AALL members have done to effect change in Washington and at home.
Make Your Case
Communicating with Congress
As members of a democratic society, we have the ability to influence on the way we are governed. Members of Congress listen to the needs and opinions of their constituents to make decisions about legislation. We hope you will take the time to express your values and your priorities to Congress. There are three paths of communication you can take. Click each link below for helpful tips and strategies for communicating with Congress.
- Visit your Representative and Senators when they’re in Washington, D.C. or when they’re home. A personal visit is the most effective means of communicating with Congress.
- Send a message. The Internet and email have made it easier than ever before for citizens to communicate with their Members of Congress. You can send a letter, email, or fax to your member of Congress at their home or Washington office.
- Call your Representative and Senators. Congressional staff are available to answer your questions and hear your opinions over the telephone.
Acting at the State Level
There are many unique opportunities to connect with your state officials that can build critical relationships for advocacy efforts in the statehouse. In addition to meeting, writing, and calling your state legislators, you can interact on a much more personal level. While no two statehouses are the same, you can use the following guides to take exciting opportunities in your state
Getting Your Message in the Media
The media can act as a powerful tool of grassroots advocacy by allowing your message to reach a broad public audience. Your voice can help to change the way community members look at issues; create a reliable, consistent stream of publicity for your mission or goal; and motivate the public and policymakers to get involved. Print media is a great place to start advocating.
The ways you can take action for AALL are not limited to those described here. From attending town hall meetings to developing position papers, the possibilities for effective advocacy are endless!
Former Speaker of the House Thomas "Tip" O'Neill is famous for the phrase, "All politics is local." The AALL Government Relations Office strongly believes that getting the participation of our members and chapters is essential to our success. While your Government Relations Office staff work hard to advance the policy goals of AALL, it is you who has the power to convince your lawmaker of the importance of law libraries to your community and the Nation. By speaking up for law libraries and taking action when it's needed, you'll become an important member of our Advocacy Team. All it takes is a little know-how and the willingness to speak up on issues that affect our profession.
The Government Relations Office makes it easy for you learn about the issues on our agenda and to get involved. By reading our monthly publications and signing up for the Advocacy Listserv and the Washington Blawg, you'll stay on top of the latest updates and news from our office. Join our Advocacy Team to get started!