The Government Relations Office (GRO) relies on AALL’s chapters to track key legislation and trends at the state level. When an issue arises, chapter leaders are encouraged to contact the GRO so that we can offer advice, help draft letters or testimony, and reach out to stakeholder groups for support. In turn, AALL relies on our chapters to speak up when we need help influencing policy at the federal level.
As Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.” The relationships that AALL and chapter members develop with their elected officials at the federal and state levels, and the expertise that they bring to those relationships, is the key to our success.
Our advocacy partnership works because it’s a two-way street. The GRO offers support when an issue arises at the state level. For example, earlier this year we coordinated efforts with the Dallas Association of Law Librarians (DALL), Houston Area Law Librarians (HALL) and Southwestern Association of Law Libraries (SWALL) on a letter to express concerns about a proposal to eliminate funding for the Texas State Law Library. In addition, as our case study describes, AALL worked closely with the Southern New England Law Librarians Association (SNELLA) in 2009/2010 to oppose the closures of Connecticut’s courthouse libraries. Our coordinated effort helped gain more than 1,100 signatures on AALL’s petitions to oppose the closures and garnered the support of the state and local bar associations who helped us in our efforts to save the libraries.
The GRO also turns to chapters to apply pressure at the federal level where it is needed most. We draft letters for the chapter president to sign, send you action alerts to forward to your members, and ask you to speak up when an important issue arises. For example, we recently asked chapters to contact Members of Congress in support of funding for the Government Printing Office.
The partnership between the GRO and chapters is facilitated by Government Relations Committee “liaisons,” who are members of the Government Relations Committee that work with their assigned chapters to form personal relationships and establish a channel of communication between the Government Relations Office, Government Relations Committee, and all of our chapters. AALL also recently launched a new listserv for chapter leaders that will help us stay informed about what is happening at the state level and help chapter leaders connect with each other around shared concerns. This listserv includes Chapter Presidents, Vice Presidents, Government Relations/Legislative Committee Chairs and the Government Relations Office staff.
The GRO also offers resources to help chapters establish effective Government Relations Committees. AALL’s Advocacy Toolkit includes sections on creating effective Government Relations/Legislative Committees, examples of letters chapters have sent to government officials, and case studies that describe — step-by-step — successful advocacy efforts at the state level. In addition, the GRO and Government Relations Committee participate in an annual Chapter Leadership Roundtable: Government Relations at AALL’s Annual Meeting to discuss the latest issues with chapter members.
To get more involved in your chapter’s advocacy efforts, contact your chapter’s Government Relations Committee Chair. To start a new committee, please email AALL’s Interim Director of Government Relations Emily Feltren. Your contributions will make a difference!