This week I am in DC, being a a tourist after participating in National Library Legislative Day earlier in the week.
After a day of briefings and orientations Monday, five-hundred librarians took to Capitol Hill Tuesday to make sure that our elected officials understand how Libraries Transform, and that they have what they need to save the IMLS. Many colleagues worked in teams by state to meet with representatives; I joined Andrew Medlar, Aimee Strittmatter, Angela Hubbard, and other Division Presidents and staff to meet with staff from the House Education & Workforce Committee, the Senate HELP Committee, and Appropriations Committee staff. We even met with Agriculture Committee staff, to talk and strategize about free lunch at the library.
Congressional staff were receptive, across parties, to the impact of libraries. They were also hungry for stories. “I hear what the IMLS does,” said one staffer, “but can you paint a picture for me of what will happen if it goes away?” That is the scenario staffers expect to be presented with, and they require ammunition with which to meet it.
Today, I visited the Library of Congress to hear ALSC member Deborah Taylor facilitate a panel on Loving vs. Virginia with Patricia Hruby Powell, Shadra Strickland, and Georgetown law professor (emerita) Elizabeth Hayes Patterson. (You can watch the webcast of this event here). I’ve been to the Library of Congress just a couple of times in my life. Each time, I feel more affirmed, as I pass under the promise of “Equal Justice Under Law” next door, to see the Library at my side.
Ascending to the viewing balcony for the reading room, I passed the amazing mosaic of Minerva. How polite she seems here. But Minerva, or Athena, is not only the goddess of wisdom and education, but of war. Today, I recognized in her gaze a weary steadfastness in the face of assault. She is always there, saying: we will fight for this. And we’re going to have to.
Thanks to all of you who have been participating in #NLLD17 and #VLLD17 this week. Thanks to the many of you who submitted your impact statements, now turned into copy-and-paste-able infographics here. Thanks to all of you for fighting for libraries. This is going to be a new kind of battle, a long one, and we need everyone together, because libraries are worth fighting for.