Legislative advocacy is essential to achieving equitable and permanent public access to trustworthy legal information and continuous improvement in access to justice. As legal information experts, law librarians influence lawmakers on many policy issues including copyright, access to trustworthy legal information, access to justice, and privacy.
AALL provides resources and opportunities to learn about the legal information policy issues impacting the profession and strengthen your legislative advocacy skills. By engaging in strategic advocacy, you will establish effective relationships with lawmakers; build strong, unified coalitions; and influence policy solutions to legal information issues.
Know the Issues
AALL advocates on many critical information policy issues, including greater access to official, authentic, and preservation government information; balanced copyright laws; a more open government; and privacy for library users.
Recently, the AALL president and members of the Association have testified before Congress on legislative proposals that support a modern Federal Depository Library Program, lobbied for greater access to court records through the Public Access Court Electronic Records (PACER) system, and responded to inquiries from Congressional staff asking for their input on emerging policy issues and legislative proposals.
AALL members add their voices and personal stories to lobbying efforts by building relationships with lawmakers and taking action on advocacy campaigns.
AALL works with chapters and individuals to ensure greater access to government information at the state level. Recently, AALL members and chapters have advocated in favor of access to official electronic legal materials and to support funding for county libraries. We also advocate in favor of enactment of the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA), a priority issue of AALL.
Influence Your Lawmakers
Members of Congress listen to the needs and opinions of constituents like you to make decisions about legislation. Building relationships with lawmakers and their staff and telling engaging stories about the impact of legislative proposals on your law library and community make lasting change.
- Visit your Representative and Senators when they’re in Washington, DC or when they’re home, or even virtually. A personal visit is the most effective means of communicating with Congress.
- Email or call Congress on legislative issues.
- Host a library tour for your lawmakers. Library tours may be done virtually.
- Master your elevator pitch to effectively deliver your message.
There are many unique opportunities to connect with your state officials that can build critical relationships for advocacy efforts in the statehouse. In addition to meeting, writing, and calling your state legislators, you can interact on a much more personal level.
- Write and present testimony at a public hearing.
- Build strong, unified coalitions for state advocacy.
The media can act as a powerful tool of grassroots advocacy by allowing your message to reach a broad public audience. Your voice can help to change the way community members look at issues; create a reliable, consistent stream of publicity for your mission or goal; and motivate the public and policymakers to get involved. Traditional media is a great place to start advocating.
- Write an Op-Ed about topical information policy news.
- Submit a Letter to the Editor in response to something you’ve read.
Former Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill is famous for the phrase, “All politics is local.” AALL strongly believes that getting the participation of members and chapters is essential to public policy successes for law libraries.
We invite you to read the latest Washington eBulletin, join the AALL Advocates Community, and take action on our current alerts. Please contact Emily Feltren, AALL director of government relations, with any questions.