Library Legislative Day
What is Library Legislative Day?
Once a year, Public Library Directors and their supporters travel to Raleigh to visit with legislators. Meetings are arranged with all State Representatives (both Senators and House Representatives) that represent any portion of your service area.
This is a one-day event that allows public libraries from across the state to speak with one unified voice promoting public library services and their value to communities.
Who Should You Bring to Legislative Day?
There is no set number of supporters recommended to accompany the director. Supporters should be knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the library and the services you offer to the community. If possible, include Individuals that represent all sections of your community and look for supporters that have a good working relationship with your representatives.
Many directors bring a combination of Friends of the Library and Trustees.
What is the Unified Message for Legislative Day?
You will receive information from The Legislative Committee of NCPLDA prior to the meeting identifying a theme for the meeting. In the last few years, we have focused on the role libraries play in the economic recovery. In other years we have highlighted the big part libraries play in improving early literacy skills for our citizens. All of these are then tied-in to the need for State Aid and ensuring that State Aid to Libraries is protected in the upcoming budget.
When is Library Legislative Day?
The NCPLDA lobbyist assists in scheduling Library Legislative Day. In a year in which the budget is set, the day will be scheduled earlier in the calendar year, usually the first quarter. If the year is the 2nd year of the budget, the day will likely be scheduled later in the spring.
Where Do the Events Occur?
The event takes place in Raleigh. In past years, there have been larger rallies on the lawns between the two legislative buildings. In some years, library displays have been set up in one wing of one of the buildings. In 2013, an auditorium was reserved in one of the legislative buildings for a brief rally and speeches by invited dignitaries.
The most important activity of the day is the individual meeting with the legislators in their offices or some other reserved space. Some legislators are willing to reserve space and invite all of the public library’s delegation for a meeting. You can ask the senior member of your delegation if his/her assistant would be willing to arrange such a meeting.
Who Plans Library Legislative Day?
The Legislative Committee of NCPLDA was responsible for planning in 2013. In years past, the President of NCPLDA has appointed a separate committee to specific celebratory events. Over the years, those events have ranged from a simple gathering in the Legislative Auditorium with a pep talk or two, to a full-on barbecue luncheon on the Legislative Mall to which legislators and staffers were invited. NCPLDA planners work with the NCPLDA lobbyist to take the temperature of the legislature and plan an event that will be most effective in relation to the tenor of the times (while also remaining mindful of current lobbying rules and restrictions).
What Preparations Should a Director Make for Library Legislative Day?
Once a date has been set you should contact your legislators and inform them of your upcoming visit. Making initial contact with the assistants by phone is a good idea. You can introduce yourself, get good contact information and begin to establish an important relationship. Give a brief synopsis of the purpose of Library Legislative Day and any theme or slogan that has been communicated by the NCPLDA Legislative Committee (e.g. “Public Libraries Thrive-Communities Thrive”—the “slogan for 2013). Schedule the visit around itinerary provided by NCPLDA, usually after the rally. However, visits with the legislators are the PRIORITY and if you must skip the rally in order to meet a legislator, please do so.
Notify members of your Advisory Board, Board of Trustee’s, Friends and volunteer groups that you will be taking a group of library supporters to Raleigh to lobby for State Aid and other aspects of library support. Prepare a brief communication/spiel, and assemble any written communication pieces (see another section of this website for ideas) you will need to help make your pitch. Share this information with other members of your visiting delegation so that they may contribute to the conversation.
Make certain you have all the information you need to locate your representative’s office.
How Do I Craft an Effective Message?
First and foremost you need to tell a story that resonates with your audience. Find out what issue or issues your legislator cares passionately about and try to speak specifically to that issue and how the library helps. Prove to them that the public library is a core service in your community and supplement it with statistics and success stories whenever possible. Most visits with legislators will be brief, 5-15 minutes. Know your message and deliver it succinctly.
Bring any bookmarks or communication pieces that illustrate the work of your library in the community and supports your message.
Be sure to give a copy of everything to the assistant - especially any “swag”. As stated above, this is a relationship you especially want to cultivate.
At the Appointment
Most of the offices are small. You’ll introduce yourself to the assistant and introduce members of your party. Unless the legislator has been unexpectedly called away, you’ll crowd into his/her small inner office. These visits are usually no more than 5 to 10 minutes. Be sure to thank the legislator profusely for his/her support of the work of the public library.
If the legislator is unexpectedly unavailable, speak with the assistants and ask that your message be communicated. Ask about the assistant’s use of the public library. You will often find the legislative assistant to be a great supporter.
Identify Your Representatives
Where are Legislative Events, Meetings and Offices Located?
There are two main buildings housing the legislators and meeting spaces:
The State Legislative Building is located at 16 West Jones Street. The Legislative Office Building is located at 300 North Salisbury Street. This building is adjacent to the State Legislative Building and easily accessible via a walkway.
The Legislative Building Auditorium is located in the State Legislative Building. This auditorium has been used for NCPLDA rallies.
A useful guide to the State Legislative building is available: http://www.ncleg.net/ncgainfo/buildingbrochure.pdf
For a useful map of the legislative complex map: http://www.ncleg.net/graphics/downtownmap.pdf
If this is your first visit to Legislative Day, you may want to familiarize yourself with the general area. The following is a good site for useful information http://www.ncleg.net/ncgainfo/visitinglegcomplex.html
Please let us know if you have any questions, concerns, and suggestions!
Tips for Making Library Legislative Day Memorable from Davidson County Public Library
Take a little red wagon of children's books to the legislators and have them play a combination of Deal or No Deal and The Price is Right to guess the total cost of the books, using an attaché case to open with a flourish to reveal the actual cost.
Use a life-size Dobby Elf (or other character) to show his resume that was created using your workforce development and job assistance services.
Use a Harry Potter (or other literary character) look-alike to give photo-ops to pages and others.
Bring along well-spoken teens and younger staffers, especially those in library school, and allow them to carry the "talking points."
Be sure to bring up your library's participation in various initiatives (we've done things with the Citizen-Soldier initiative), showing video if possible. Make sure as many elected officials know about your endeavors and invite their participation.