Illinois Library Association Legislative Day
by Kathy Roegge, MLS
Each year legislative day is sponsored by the Illinois Library Association (ILA) (http://www.ila.org/). On Thursday, April 23, 2009, 143 directors, staff and trustees from libraries representing different parts of Illinois arrived at Springfield to meet and discuss issues and concerns with their various legislators. ILA Legislation Day provides libraries a chance to promote what they do in their communities, lobby for issues and put a face on libraries for their representatives.
The evening before, April 22, the Dupage Library System (DLS) (http://www.dupagels.lib.il.us/) hosted a dinner to brief attendees on current legislative issues. Kip Kolkmeir, legislative consultant for the ILA, shared the latest information on pending legislation, discussed strategy and answered questions. Censorship was a big issue in past years but this year the focus was on money and the state budget.
Kip encouraged everyone attending to tell legislators how important it was to keep libraries in mind when approving the budget. He gave updates on House and Senate Bills that are moving through the legislative process. A flyer listing different bills and issues of concern to libraries was available for attendees to give to legislators during their visit. One positive note was that there was no bill requiring filtering software in libraries submitted this year.
Folders were handed out to libraries attending from the Metropolitan Library System (MLS) by Alice Calabrese, Executive Director. One had been prepared for each senator and representative from the districts in the area MLS serves. These folders included a Return On Investment (ROI) flyer (http://www.mls.lib.il.us/consulting/pdf/MLSROI2009.pdf) about the services MLS provides for member libraries, the ILA flyer (http://www.mls.lib.il.us/consulting/pdf/ILAPalmCardApril2009.pdf) and another ROI (http://www.mls.lib.il.us/consulting/pdf/SystemROI2009.pdf) that highlighted the value of System Library services for Illinois.
Legislative day began with a breakfast held at the Illinois State Library. Legislators were invited to attend the breakfast to visit with their library constituents. Kathy McSwain from Chicago Ridge Public Library was in charge of the arrangements for the breakfast.
“Library Day for me started at 6AM. I was putting table linens on the tables, and anxiously awaiting the arrival of those attending the breakfast. Greeting the legislative guests and hooking them up with their people is the job of the morning.”
After breakfast the attendees visited their representatives. They walked over to the Capitol and Stratton Buildings armed with folders or bags determined to meet their senators or representatives. One group from MLS included Mary Weimar and Melissa Panio from Orland Park; Ruthann Swanson and Sue Pajor from Alsip; Sheila Sosnicki from Palos Park; Karen Danczak-Lyons from Chicago Public and Kathy McSwain.
Kathy describes their experience “We started our adventure over to the Capitol Building and met up with Senator Viverito who spoke to the group about his feeling on the P-Tell legislation. We then went on our way to meet with Senator Edward Maloney who gave the group a tour of the Senate Chambers. He showed us his desk, computer, and work area and took a group photo.”
The group also toured Secretary of State Jesse White’s office. They then dropped off packets and gifts for Sen. Emil Jones III, Senator Radogno and Senator Maggie Crotty. They tried to visit with Michael Madigan, but had no success. The group traveled to the Stratton Building and stopped in at the offices of Representatives Brosnahan, Joyce, Kosel and McCarthy.
Jeannie Dilger-Hill, La Grange Public Library Director, said this was the most productive legislation day she had attended. “Because House and Senate sessions were scheduled for afternoon this year, legislators were more available for morning meetings. We were able to meet with our senators, Radogno and Viverito, and both our representatives, Zalewski and Durkin.” La Grange Public Library’s Marketing and PR Coordinator, Bridget Bittman, is Representative Patricia Bellock’s niece. “Aunt Patti” invited them to sit in on a Medicaid Reform committee meeting, and took them onto the floor of the House to explain the voting process.
Kim Litland director of the Brookfield Public Library reported “A contingent of librarians, trustees, and library advocates from Brookfield, Stickney-Forest View, LaGrange, and Berwyn traveled the halls of the Capitol and Stratton together to talk with legislators (Representative Zalewski, Representative Biggins, and Senator Viverito) via set appointments. The discussions this year centered on maintaining funding levels for Per Capita and Library System funding despite the state's budgetary woes. We asked legislators to preserve funding and to proactively include libraries in any capital bills that would soon be coming under consideration."
Because many of the Legislators were either in committee meetings or even on their way home early, others did not have similar success with their visits. Alice and Kathy Roegge from MLS along with Board President Janet Kelenson visited legislators without a library attending this year. If the legislators were busy and unable to talk, a folder was left to be read later.
The Annual Legislative day is a good opportunity for members to connect with their representative. As Kathy McSwain states “It is really important for our legislators to know we need help and to present examples”.
For more information contact Kathy Roegge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published May 6, 2009 in vol. 3, iss. 9 [View]