Guest Post: Participating in Virtual Lobby Day Can be Virtually Painless

March 25, 2014

By David McFadden, Senior Reference Librarian at Southwester Law School and member of  AALL’s Government Relations Committee

So, you’re interested in law librarian advocacy. Participating in a legislative lobby day is a great stepping stone for building relationships and staying in contact with your legislators and/or their staff. Even when you don’t have a lot to discuss, the connections you create and maintain during a meeting with your legislators can prove helpful for later, bigger “asks” on important campaigns. And, it is really rewarding when you meet or contact a legislator and they actually know who you are!

But what if you can’t pack up and fly all the way to D.C. for the upcoming 2014 Local Advocate Lobby Day?  Don’t fear. You can still participate. The AALL Government Relations Office is also sponsoring a Virtual Lobby Day this Thursday, March 27.

The nice thing about the Virtual Lobby Day is that it doesn’t take up a lot of your time or money. By signing up to participate in our Virtual Lobby Day, you will commit to making a simple phone call or sending an email message to your members of Congress. In doing so, you will help make a difference for law libraries.

One common concern  of new advocates is that you don’t know what to say to legislators. In past campaigns, I’ve always tried to make it easier to get librarians to help out by providing materials and samples. The Government Relations Office staff does the same thing. If you sign up, they will send directions, tips, background information on legislation, talking points, and sample messages to your inbox on our day of action. Depending on your member of Congress’ background and committee assignments, the Government Relations Office staff will even help you to determine to which pieces of legislation your members of Congress will be most receptive.

Legislative advocacy often consists of many small little steps. Virtual Lobby Day is one of those. Help out in a small and relatively painless way to further the legislative efforts of law librarians.


Join the Team

October 9, 2012

By Elizabeth

Here’s a friendly reminder to complete our quick survey to become a member of AALL’s Advocacy Team if you haven’t already done so!

With Congress making cuts to Government Printing Office and Library of Congress funding, looming threats to eliminate crucial print legal resources, and important information policy issues competing for attention in the upcoming lame-duck session, now is the critical time to make your voice heard. Whether you’re new to our advocacy efforts or a seasoned veteran, the Government Relations Office would like to invite you to become a more effective, engaged member of AALL’s Advocacy Team by providing us with some brief information about yourself and your interests. The information you share with us will help us help you become your most effective advocate.

Take our brief Advocacy Team questionnaire today.

Whether you are an academic, private or public sector law librarian, joining the AALL Advocacy Team will provide a rewarding opportunity to participate in our Association and make a difference. You will help to implement public policies that ensure no-fee permanent public access to official, authentic legal resources, create an equitable balance in copyright laws, protect the privacy of library users, and impact other key information policy issues.

Our advocates have already racked up many successes at the federal level. For example, earlier this year, our members helped ensure adequate funding for the Library of Congress and Government Printing Office in this fiscal year. And, thanks to your help, the “We, the People” petition calling for open access to taxpayer-funded research surpassed the number of signatures required for review by the White House staff and is currently under consideration for action by the White House!

As former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local.”  Personal relationships and contacts are the most effective way to influence your legislators’ position on public policies. Once again, please fill out our questionnaire. Your responses will help us to identify how you can most effectively assist us with our advocacy efforts.

The Government Relations Office will call upon Advocacy Team members to influence the outcome on our important legislative priorities. We will only contact you when matters are urgent, so when you hear from us, you’ll know we really need your help. The information you provide will remain confidential.

Thank you for that you do! We look forward to working together.


Taking Advantage of the August Recess

August 17, 2012

You’ve likely noticed it around your office and during your morning commute. Even at your local grocery store and community pool, you’ve felt the effects. It’s August and it seems that just about everyone is on vacation. Where crowds once were, there are now only the few and far between.

Congress, too, has emptied out as August recess sends legislators across the county back to their home districts and states. With the November election looming, your members of Congress will be spending much of their time campaigning at home, talking with constituents and hearing the concerns of voters.

Not on vacation? You can take advantage of the August lull by getting active in advocacy. With your members of Congress at home, now is the perfect time to put to practice the belief that “all politics is local.” Invite your legislators to tour your library and tell them about the need for adequate funding. Meet with your representative to urge them to support public access to Congressional Research Service reports. Call your senators to ask them to vote for full funding for the Government Printing Office and Library of Congress. The relationships you build this August will serve you well in months to come.

Be sure to consult AALL’s Advocacy Toolkit and contact the Government Relations Office for help getting started. Don’t worry; we’re not on vacation, either.


Using Print Legal Materials? Share Your Story!

July 16, 2012

Hopefully by now you’ve seen—and used— AALL’s new Print Resource Usage Log. This new tool was developed by the Government Relations Office, in consultation with the Government Relations Committee, in response to the increasing threat of the elimination of print legal materials and reference publications. The log is a quick and easy way to record evidence of the continued need for legal materials in print and other tangible formats.

We’ve already received some great entries to the log. Here are some highlights:

  • Pamela Kaufman, Law Librarian at the Connecticut Judicial Branch Law Library at Stamford, recently logged the use of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and U.S. Code. She wrote, “An attorney was researching the eligibility requirements for the Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers. Using the public law number, we found where the law was codified in the United States Code Service. After reviewing the annotations to the statute he wanted to look at any related regulations in the CFR.” Why was she using the print? “The attorney wanted to read the annotated version of the United States Code, something our library does not have electronically.”
  • A librarian at a private firm noted how much more accessible print resources can be when attorneys use multiple titles of the CFR every day.  She prefers the print “to be able to look at multiple provisions simultaneously without having to continually expand the table of contents at FDsys to find other provisions, or hav[ing] to bear the search expense of looking in Westlaw or Lexis.”
  • Deborah Darin, Reference Librarian & Legal Research Adjunct Professor at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, uses print resources as a teaching tool in her role as an instructor.  She introduces her students to the print version in class, then has them find things in it while she assists. She believes her students get a much better idea of what is in these sources of primary law if they can first examine them in print: “Many of them have said the light bulb stayed on after [using the print], and when they got to their summer jobs, they were confident in their ability to search and use the material in any format, after having seen it in print”
  • Maria Willmer, Legal Research Specialist at DePaul College of Law Library, shared the story of how the print not only ruled, but it saved the day!  She wrote,” During a rush request from a Professor for his class, I needed to find a Proposed Rule and track it through to when it became a Final Rule and then find where it was codified in the CFR.  Using the print issues and volume were the best way to track this down.  I pulled a 2010 FR issue in paper – found a proposed rule – pulled the CFR volume where this potential rule would be codified and then back tracked to find the final rule.  I honestly believe having the print volumes in front of me, helped me quickly navigate and find all three documents in a short [amount] of time …print rules (pun intended)!”

Whether chosen for their accessibility, availability, reliability or simply personal preference, print materials are being used in all types of law libraries by many different users . Please help us build the case for print by logging each time you use, or help someone to use, a federal legal resource in print. Your stories will make a difference!

Note:  All statements were printed with the permission of the authors. Your answers to the log will only be recorded and viewed by the AALL Government Relations Office staff, though we will make public an overview of the responses.  


Take Action: Sign the White House Petition on Open Access to Research!

May 24, 2012

The issue of public access to the results of federally funded research has recently gained significant traction in Washington. The Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) (S. 2096 and H.R. 4004), which AALL strongly supports, has continued to mount support in Congress, gaining 29 cosponsors in the House of Representatives since its introduction in February. Expanding the successful model created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy, these bills would require federal agencies with extramural research budgets of more than $100 million to make their research available for free online access by the general public within six months of publication in peer reviewed journals. The Obama administration has also taken an active interest in this issue and there is a sense that the administration understands the value of open access. With so much attention on open access right now, a strong demonstration of public support could prompt the executive branch to take action.

To that end, a “We, the People” Whitehouse.gov petition has been created to urge President Obama to “act now to implement open access policies for all federal agencies that fund scientific research.” Since launching on Monday, May 21, the petition has already gained nearly 15,000 signatures and is well on its way to reaching its goal. If the petition garners 25,000 signatures within 30 days, it will be reviewed by White House staff and considered for action.

Members of the public have a right to access research funded by their taxpayer dollars. We urge you to sign the petition today.

This is a critical opportunity for AALL members to demonstrate that we believe open access to federally funded research should be a high priority for the administration. Demonstrating public support will also strengthen FRPAA’s chances in Congress. With your support, we can influence the White House to act.

Once you have signed the petition, you can also encourage your colleagues, friends and family to do the same. Thank you for all the work that you do to ensure equal and open access!


Take Action Against PIPA

January 19, 2012

For months, AALL has expressed opposition to two overreaching bills that aim to address the real issue of international intellectual property infringement, piracy and counterfeiting on the Internet – the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PROTECT IP Act, or PIPA), S.968, and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), H.R. 3261. AALL strongly believes that these bills threaten free speech, free expression and the freedom of the Internet.

Now, we need your help. On Tuesday, January 24, the Senate is scheduled to hold a cloture vote on S. 968. AALL needs you to write to your Senators and tell them to vote NO on PIPA.

We’ve provided you with a draft message that you can edit, and it only takes a few minutes to take action. Please join us in telling your Senators that while online infringement may be a problem, PIPA is not the answer.


AALL ACTION ALERT: Take Action to Oppose H.R. 3699, a Bill to Prevent Public Access to Taxpayer-funded Research

January 9, 2012

Please take a moment to respond to our important new action alert in opposition to H.R. 3699, the Research Works Act. This bill, which was introduced on December 16 by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA-49) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-14), would reverse the National Institutes of Health’s popular Public Access Policy, which AALL strongly supports, and prevent other Federal agencies from developing similar policies to provide timely public access to taxpayer-funded research.

Please help ensure that members of the House of Representatives – especially those who sit on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where the bill has been referred – understand that this bill would be a step in the wrong direction for open access.

Please take action and tell your Representative that the public must have access to research funded by taxpayer dollars.


Contact Your Senators NOW – Ask Them to Vote NO on Net Neutrality Resolution, S.J. Res 6

November 7, 2011

[This post was updated on November 8]

The Senate is expected to vote this week on a resolution of disapproval, S.J. Res 6, which would repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality rules and strip the FCC of its authority to implement net neutrality.

Please call your Senators today and ask them to vote NO on S.J. Res 6. Because of the short notice, it is important that you call, rather than email, your Senators. The Government Relations Committee and Government Relations Office have posted a new one-pager on why net neutrality matters to law libraries.

The House passed an identical resolution (H.J. Res 37) in April. The FCC’s net neutrality rules are set to take effect on November 20. It is very important that you contact your Senators now to ask them to vote NO on S.J. Res 6. The vote is expected to be very close, so your calls will make a difference.


AALL ACTION ALERT: Restore Funding for GPO FDsys and FDLP PROGRAMS

August 18, 2011

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch will consider its version of the FY 2012 funding bill as early as the first week of September. It is critical that you contact your Senators today to support funding for the Government Printing Office (GPO) Federal Digital System (FDsys) and Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) as the future of these programs is in jeopardy.

Background

The House of Representatives on July 22 passed H.R. 2551, the FY 2012 Legislative Branch appropriations bill.  H.R. 2551 would reduce the GPO budget by 20 percent to $108.1 million, and prohibit transfers to the GPO’s “revolving fund”.  The bill specifically provides no funding for FDsys and instead suggests that GPO comes up with another funding stream to pay for this essential government function. This means new bills, laws, other important legal materials and government documents may not be accessible.

In addition, the Superintendent of Documents Salaries and Expenses account was cut by 16 percent.  This line item supports annual FDsys expenses and also supports public access to congressional and other government information through the FDLP.  These cuts would undermine the entire FDLP program; GPO works in partnership with the more than 1200 participating depository libraries, including law libraries, to provide access to federal government information, including important information for businesses, consumers, and the general public.

AALL strongly supports GPO’s FY 2012 request, which includes $42 million under Salaries and Expenses (including $304,000 for FDsys annual operating costs) and $5 million under the revolving fund for the continued development of FDsys.  AALL strongly opposes the GPO funding levels included in H.R. 2551, as passed by the House of Representatives.

More information is available here: LibraryJournal.com article, AALL Govt. Relations Summary

Urgent Action Needed – PLEASE follow the instructions below.

If you live in States whose Senators sit on the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, your participation is especially important, but every Senator will play a role in the outcome. Your voice as a constituent will also play a key role in this debate.  Please act now:

(1)   Please write a personal letter to both of your Senators urging them to support appropriate levels of funding for these programs. A SAMPLE letter for you to customize and personalize with your own experiences is below.  Please fax a copy to your Senators and send the PDF version by e-mail to jstrandlie@aall.org.  If you don’t have access to a scanner, please fax a copy to us at (202) 737-0480 and mail the original to AALL, 25 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20001.  Having constituent support in hand will be important as we meet with Congressional offices.  Should you need fax information, e-mail your request to efeldman@aall.org.

(2)   Please consider meeting with your Senators while they are back home during the August recess, or perhaps attend a town hall meeting. The recess extends through Labor Day, September 5.  If you are willing to do this, please e-mail jstrandlie@aall.org as we can help you make the contact.

(3)   Please remember to report your Senators’ responses to your request, so that we can better coordinate this important effort.  E-mail Julie Strandlie, Director, Government Relations, at jstrandlie@aall.org.  Thank you for participating in this important AALL Advocacy Team effort.

Senate Committee on Appropriations

http://appropriations.senate.gov/about-members.cfm

Full Senate

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

SAMPLE LETTER

Available here as a customizable Word Document

(one well-written, personal letter is powerful and effective)

 

LETTERHEAD (IF POSSIBLE)

Your NAME
ADDRESS
CITY, STATE, ZIP

August [XX], 2011

The Honorable [INSERT FIRST AND LAST NAME]
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Subject: Legislative Branch Appropriations bill
Funding for the Government Printing Office, including FDsys and FDLP

Dear Senator [insert last name]:
As a constituent and a law librarian, I urge you to provide full funding for the Government Printing Office (GPO) in the FY 2012 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill, as requested by the GPO and the Administration. Recently, the House of Representatives passed its version of this bill (H.R. 2551) and gutted funding for critical GPO programs including the Federal Digital System (FDsys) and the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).

While the significant cuts will unacceptably undermine the FDLP program, the elimination of funding for FDsys is of particular concern.

INSERT PERSONAL EXPERIENCES RE FDSYS:

PROVIDE EXAMPLES OF HOW CONSTITUENTS OF THE SENATOR(S) ARE USING THESE PROGRAMS

EXPLAIN WHY THESE PROGRAMS ARE SO IMPORTANT TO YOU, YOUR COLLEAGUES, YOUR STUDENTS, LOCAL BUSINESSES, THE LEGAL COMMUNITY, DEMOCRACY

While I understand Congress’s interest in cutting its own budget and services, these decisions regarding FDsys and the FDLP primarily impact the American people and the legitimacy of our government.  I urge you to provide full funding for GPO, including FDsys and the FDLP, and reject the funding cuts included in H.R. 2551.

Sincerely,

Constituent

Title (unless writing in only individual capacity)


AALL ACTION ALERT: Oppose PATRIOT Act Extension Without Reform

May 24, 2011

The Senate is preparing to vote on S. 1038, the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011.  The bill is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  Certain USA PATRIOT Act provisions expire Friday, May 27, including the Section 215 “library provision”.

Background

Senators Reid and McConnell and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH-8) made a last-minute, closed-room deal to extend these expiring provisions without meaningful debate or reforms.

S. 1038 would simply extend the expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act until June 1, 2015.  Identified problems with this law would not be addressed but instead extended another 4 years.  The lack of additional protections for libraries in S. 1038 is especially troubling in light of a recent Department of Justice report to Congress that found that the government made 96 applications for Section 215 orders in 2010, up from 21 applications in 2009.

AALL supports an important bipartisan amendment expected to be offered by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) which would reform the expiring provisions, including the Section 215 provision.  The Leahy/Paul amendment* is essentially the language in S. 193, which was supported by AALL and reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in March 2011.

Among other important improvements, the Leahy/Paul amendment would require the government to show relevance to an authorized investigation and a link to a foreign group or power in order to obtain highly sensitive library circulation records or patron lists, and bookseller records.  The Department of Justice in December 2010 wrote the Judiciary Committee stating that it has, on a voluntary basis, implemented many of the changes in S. 193.   While this is a positive step, Congress must now follow through to make these practices permanent.

Urgent Action Needed

Please call the Capitol Hill Switchboard NOW at (202) 224-3121 to speak to your Senators.  Ask for the Senator’s counsel who handles Judiciary Committee/PATRIOT Act issues. AALL strongly opposes extending current law.  The PATRIOT Act expiring provisions must be reformed to balance the government’s interest in protecting national security with defending the constitutional rights of the American people.

(1)  Inform your Senators that you, as a constituent and law librarian, strongly oppose an automatic extension of PATRIOT Act expiring provisions for FOUR years and strongly oppose S. 1038 as introduced. Without meaningful reform, Congress should only pass a short-term extension of the expiring provisions.

(2)  Urge your Senators to co-sponsor and/or vote for the bipartisan Leahy/Paul amendment which includes AALL-supported reforms to current law.  AALL also supports amendments that may be offered by Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to specifically address the library provision.

(3)  Please remember to report your contacts to AALL’s Government Relations Office, and your Senators’ responses to your request.  E-mail Julie M. Strandlie, Director, Government Relations, at jstrandlie@aall.org.  Thank you for participating in this important AALL Advocacy Team effort.

*Leahy/Paul Amendment Co-sponsors Include:

Paul (R-KY)
Cardin (D-MD)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Coons (D-DE)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Wyden (D-OR)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Harkin (D-IA)
Akaka (D-HI)


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