Yesterday I was able to attend library advocacy day in Albany with CLRC. CLRC sponsors a bus for librarians and library school student to lobby legislatures as part of NYLA's Library Advocacy Day. As a student, the price is kept low to allow us to see and learn the process and network with librarians.
The day started early, with the bus leaving at 6am from Syracuse. We arrived in Albany just before 9am, after stopping in Utica to pick up additional attendees. After going through security it was up many flights of stairs to our first meeting.
Important lesson #1: Tuesday is Lobby Day in Albany. You will be standing and walking quite a bit, particularly while waiting in line at security. Additionally, there is a long wait for elevators. Stairs are easier. Wear comfortable shoes and be ready for some exercise.
We met with three legislatures and one legislature's aide in the first half of the day. It was not at all what I was expecting. We discussed the legislative priorities and other talking points; we listened to children and parents on why the library was important to them; we listed to some legislatures lobby us about Medicaid reform (random, I know); we thanked them for their prior support and asked for them to continue to do help us.
Important lesson #2: Every year the same general things get said. They know what is coming and so do we. So why continue to go? If you do not, they will forget about your cause and cut your funding even further.
Then came lunch. Not normally something I would discuss, except for what happened afterwards. We left the security zone to go to the cafe just outside it for our hour long break. When we went to go back into the Legislative offices, the AFSCME members had arrived to lobby. These are Union members and their numbers were impressive. It was an hour and a half wait to get back through security, meaning we would miss all of our afternoon appointments.
Important lesson #3: Bring a lunch and stay inside the security zone. You never know what will occur.
As such, we went to the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception and the New York State Museum for an hour and a half, then went to find the bus. And so we waited for the bus. Due to the congestion for lobby day, we finally were able to get on the bus an hour later than planned. In that time, I was able to talk with librarians and library trustees from the area, who had wonderful advice for a soon-to-be graduate.
Important lesson #4: As in all other parts of life, go with the flow and change directions as needed. Opportunities present themselves if you look for them.
We made it home around 6:30pm and then I did homework until I crashed. I really enjoyed the opportunity and have to thank CLRC for allowing MLIS students to attend at such an amazingly discounted price. I look forward to attending in the future and, hopefully, going through leader training so that I can help others in talking with our elected officials. Remember, support your libraries!
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