What happened at 2014 Library Day in Tallahassee?
Report by Steve Baker, SEFLIN Board President
on Library Day in Tallahassee, March 25, 2014
Steve Baker’s Legislative Contacts and Observations on FLA Library Day
Rep. Kevin Rader (Takeata King Pang, Legislative Aide)—met with the legislative aide
Rep. Marylynn Mager (Matthew Choy, Legislative Aide)—met with the legislative aide
Rep. Mark Pafford (Audrey Piedra, Legislative Aide)—met with Rep. Pafford
Rep. Dave Kerner (David Shane, Legislative Aide)—met with Rep. Kerner
Rep. Bobby Powell (Fredrick McCoy, Legislative Aide)—met with Rep. Powell
Rep. Bill Hager (Beth Lerner, Legislative Aide)—met with the legislative aide
Rep. Lori Berman (Cody, Futch, Legislative Aide)—met with Rep. Berman
Rep. Irving Slosberg (Krista Ziehler, Legislative Aide)—met with the legislative aide
Sen. Joseph Abruzzo (Shreya Kuntawala, Legislative Aide)—met with the legislative aide
Sen. Jeff Clemens (Evelyn DuPlecy, Legislative Aide)—met with Sen. Clemens
Sen. Joe Negron (Carrie Lira, Legislative Aide)—met with the legislative aide
Sen. Maria Sachs (Laura Jimenez, Legislative Aide)—met with the legislative aide
My observations from the experience of FLA Library Day begin with the reception hosted by the law firm of Lewis, Longman, and Walker the evening before our day in the statehouse. FLA’s new Executive Director, Martina Brawer, was welcomed and spoke briefly. Chris Lyon, an attorney with the firm who serves as the FLA lobbyist, addressed the group on his efforts on behalf of FLA. He was very encouraged that the funds for both state aid to public libraries and the multitype library cooperative grant would be increased this coming year.
For me the day in the statehouse was a whirlwind tour in an attempt to get into all 13 of the offices for legislators who represent some portion of Palm Beach County. I succeeded in getting into all but one. During these visits I thanked them for support of libraries, encouraged them to stay strong in support of the MLC grant and state aid to public libraries, and told them how important good quality public libraries were to my own community. The success that I had was likely due in part to the approach that I took in preparing for the event. About four weeks from the date of the event I mailed formal letters to all the county legislators enumerating some key talking points in support of libraries and asking them to support specific funding targets. I ended the letter thanking them for their service. Then, the week before the event I emailed all the legislative aides requesting a time to visit with their respective legislator the day of the event. By Monday evening I had appointments with about 2/3 of the group. The day of the event I met at appointed times and used time in between just to drop into the remaining offices.
Aside from the basic numerical success of getting into the offices of 12 of 13 legislators there were even more important lessons learned and groundwork laid in the process. First, I was able to establish a relationship with the legislators and aides I met. Second, I delivered a simple message about the importance of state funding for libraries. Third, I learned that most every legislator is keenly interested in whether you live in their particular district (i.e. a direct constituent). Fourth, I learned that Library Day needs to extend to future “days“ visiting the local county office of the legislator or attending his/her local forums. Fifth, I learned that the legislative aide is the key to getting access to the legislator and being heard.
I’m attaching a sample of the letter that I sent to these legislators prior to Library Day.
Palm Beach Atlantic University
Letter to State Representatives & Senators preceding visit to Library Day 2014
As President of the Board of Directors for the Southeast Florida Library Information Network (SEFLIN) I am contacting you about the state budget review process as it relates to funding requests for libraries and library cooperatives. I recently noticed that the Governor’s 2014-15 budget proposal included $1 million for the state’s five multitype library cooperatives (MLCs). As you make revisions to the budget proposal, I wanted to raise your awareness of the important role SEFLIN plays in supporting our libraries in the four county southeast region.
At the bare minimum SEFLIN and the other Florida MLCs need the Library Cooperative funds to be retained at the current year’s level. The 2013-14 budget included $1.5 million to assist libraries in enhancing services provided to our communities. In light of the important service these libraries provide their patrons in these times of diminishing local funds, I would ask you to consider increasing the Library Cooperative funds for 2014-2015 to $1.8 million.
SEFLIN and the four other MLCs assist our region’s libraries in providing excellent service to their communities. Each MLC is supported locally through member library dues, state Library Cooperative funds, and federal funds from the Library Services and Technology Act administered through the State Library.
SEFLIN supported Southeast Florida libraries in 2012-2013 through its
Steven Baker, Dean of Warren Library
Palm Beach Atlantic University
President, SEFLIN Board of Directors