On October 4, the American Library Association (ALA) announced the 45-115 ALA Federal Initiative to promote the capacity of libraries to advance our nation’s goals to leading federal policymakers. The campaign—named after the next president (our 45th) and the next Congress (our 115th)—will position US libraries and library professionals as invaluable team members in setting federal policy and moving our nation forward in the digital age.
Created by ALA President Julie B. Todaro, the bipartisan effort will build on the ALA Libraries Transform national campaign focus on raising public awareness of library innovation and the value of the “expert in the library.”
“Libraries and library professionals contribute to our country’s agenda in so many ways,” Todaro said. “Every day we provide opportunities for individuals and communities to gain the knowledge and skills to grow and thrive. We promote innovative early education; lead school programs to develop digital literacy; provide access to the latest research; and offer employment services, entrepreneurship hubs and job training. In all these ways, libraries play a key role in building the economy.
“The 2016 national election represents an extraordinary opportunity and challenge for policymakers and the more than 57,000 members of the American Library Association. Not only will we elect a new president, we could have a very different Congress in 2017. Our new 45-115 Initiative is designed to provide resources and assistance to presidential candidates and their respective transition teams as well as members of Congress and their staff on the campaign trail as they prepare for the leadership of our nation. The more we can get our people, our facilities, and our patrons in front of policymakers, the easier it is to demonstrate how strong libraries make strong communities.”
45-115 is being led by ALA Past President Courtney Young with support from political consultant Jenny Backus, known to ALA members through her presentations at the Midwinter 2016 policy briefing and National Library Legislative Day. Materials and messaging are being developed for use in advocacy with the incoming administration, the transition teams and Congress. Such advocacy includes library-requested meetings and submitting ALA materials to relevant staffers, as well as working to have library professionals or library interests included in state and local events organized by the campaigns and others.
Suggestions and input from ALA members across the country are welcome.