The annual Library Lobby day came this year with the surge of passion we’ve come to expect from the library community. Hundreds came from all over the state, often through foul weather, to express how important their libraries are to them. NYLA, as always, organized an effective message received by a legislative delegation eager to hear it.
One after another, members of the Assembly and Senate stood and fired up the crowd with their personal acknowledgements of the importance of their library. Each of them had a story to tell that let us know that their professions of support weren’t just professional but personal as well. And now that day has come and gone for the year, but we still have time to do something we signed up for when we became trustees, to give the politicians what they want.
It’s not cynical to say that elected officials want to keep their jobs, and they keep their jobs by listening to their constituents and aligning the priorities of the budget process with the priorities of the citizens that sent them to Albany.
That’s where you come in.
You are the conduit for the affections your community has for your library.
The parent who brings their family to story time and leaves with a stack of Seuss books and Disney movies almost as tall as their children needs you to tell your legislator how important the library is for instilling a lifelong love of reading in their sons and daughters.
The student who spends their afternoons in the teen room because no one is home until dinner time needs you to tell your legislator how important a safe and welcoming space is for a few hours a day can be.
The senior citizen who spends a few hours in your reading room browsing the newspapers and magazines and talking to the librarians and other patrons needs you to tell your legislator how important it is to be able to stay in touch with people in the twilight of their years.
The borrowers of ebooks who can’t get physical ones, because the weather is too poor to drive thirty minutes safely. The patrons wanting to try out a 3D printer but couldn’t afford on on their own. Those looking for services they can’t get anywhere else. They need you to tell your legislators about them.
You know your library. You know how important it is to you and your community. Let your legislators know the stories of the people who rely on it as well. Let them know how to make you and your community happy, so they’ll know they’re doing their job as well. Give the politicians what they want.