by Becca Stroebel Kabasa and Audra Green
The Idaho Library Association Legislative Committee advocates legislatively for Idaho’s libraries. What exactly does this mean? Well, along with our legislative advisor, John Watts and other members of the Idaho library community, the committee tracks legislative that might potentially affect Idaho’s libraries. After tracking that legislation we develop strategies to support the legislation or to oppose its passage.
Another facet of this advocacy is to build relationship with legislators to educate them about the importance of libraries to Idaho communities. Annually, the Idaho Library Association makes targeted visits to legislators in key positions. This year the delegation consisted of Legislative Co-chairs Audra Green and Becca Stroebel, ILA president Gena Marker, ILA incoming president Karen Yother, and John Watts, legislative advisor (see attached photos). Meetings this year focused on the purpose of ILA, the importance of the support offered to Idaho’s libraries through the Idaho Commission For Libraries, a demonstration of Learning Express, the importance of school library involvement in Students Come First and the value of Read to Me. We visited with Governor Otter, the chairs of the Education Committee, Senate and House Leadership, the Revenue and Taxation chairs, the Joint Financial Appropriations chairs and staff from the Superintendent of Education’s office. These meetings vary year to hear depending on pertinent issues.
Many ILA members contacted their local legislators about these issues. This grass-roots advocacy is so important and makes a tremendous difference when it comes time to contact legislators about a particular issue. We thank you for all of your participation and support for legislative activities.
This session the Idaho legislature supported a request to provide funding for the Read to Me program, the LiLI-D databases and most of the budget of ICFL. They did not support funding for Learning Express, which will expire in October. We plan to advocate for this database throughout the rest of the year and hope to bring it back for re-consideration in the 2013 legislative session. We will be counting on ILA members to communication with their legislators about the value of Learning Express to their libraries. In a few weeks, we will be visiting staff from the offices of Idaho’s Federal Representatives.
Although contacting your legislators can seem like a daunting task, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Throughout the year, the Idaho Library Association Legislative Committee is making contact with legislators as is our legislative advisor John Watts. Along with your input, these contacts help to keep Idaho libraries top of mind for legislators.
Becca Stroebel Kabasa is a Librarian at the Boise Public Library Main Library. Her term as legislative co-chair is 2010-2012
Audra Green is a Librarian at the Collister Library. Her term as legislative co-chair is 2011-2013.