ALA / NYLA National Network
Congressional Key Contact Program
About the Program
The American Library Association (ALA) is offering unprecedented opportunities for members to engage with the ALA Public Policy & Advocacy Office. The Association has launched an advanced advocacy program of Key Contacts, member volunteers that serve the ALA National Network as issue ambassadors working on behalf of all ALA member organizations and affiliates. The goal of this initiative is to build and strengthen relationships with members of Congress and their staffs nationwide.
Never before has the volunteer advocate played a larger role in the policymaking process than it does today. That trend will only continue. An ever-increasing number of organizations are relying on their employees, members, stakeholders and advocates to not just deliver messages of issue support or opposition to policymakers, but to take ownership as active participants in an interest group’s public policy efforts.
This initiative will be rolled out via a pilot program of targeted states: Alabama, Florida, and New York. The end goal is to assign one ALA/NYLA member as the Key Congressional Contact for each member of Congress. These volunteer ambassadors partner with the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office to educate and inform federal lawmakers and their staff about the valuable role America’s libraries play in their local communities. ALA Key Congressional Contacts will seek to build strong relationships with an assigned congressional office, establishing a network of committed volunteers to serve as the “go-to” community contacts for these legislative offices on issues impacting America’s libraries.
ALA Key Congressional Contacts will receive specialized training and guidance, have access to customized advocacy resources, regularly interact with the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office and be recognized in ALA communications channels for their valued contributions. Participation in the ALA Key Congressional Contact program will be subject to the following requirements:
- Must be an ALA member or NYLA member in good standing.
- Must reside within the congressional district or state you are representing as a Key Congressional Contact.
- Appointment is made by the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office in collaboration with the NYLA Legislative Committee Chair and NYLA staff.
- Must serve a two-year term. May be reappointed for additional terms of one to two years in length. Willingness to serve multiple terms is recommended and appreciated.
There are many ways to connect with Congress. The most important thing an ALA Key Congressional Contact can do is share their story and serve as a valuable community resource to local congressional offices. Key Congressional Contacts commit to report all interactions with their legislators to the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office. They should also plan to participate in occasional trainings and planning calls. And, ALA Key Congressional Contacts are responsible for insuring that all communications with their assigned legislators are fully in alignment with ALA priorities and strategies, and always are conducted according to the highest ethical standards.
- Serve as the ALA/NYLA point person and primary member advocacy contact for your assigned federal Representative or Senator.
- Participate in advocacy training sessions, webinars, conference calls and other Association programs that prepare you to be an effective advocate and communicate ALA’s public policy priorities and positions.
- Develop and maintain relationships with federal legislators and their staff locally, in their home congressional districts, through at least two in-district office meetings per year.
- Attend the ALA National Library Legislative Day and meet with your assigned congressional office. (preferred but not required)
- Be responsible for arranging and attending ALA-sponsored in-district engagement activities with your assigned congressional office. (e.g. hosted site visits, Coffees with Congress, town halls, and other activities as requested)
- Engage in other advocacy-related activities each month. These may involve calling or sending personal messages to staff, reaching out to local media, interacting with members of Congress via social networks and recruiting new advocates to the effort.
- Serve as the lead agent for your local Key Information Network of Supporters (KINs - see below), a group of highly engaged advocates who have agreed to provide support for Key Congressional Contacts through a variety of coordinated actions.
- Commit to reporting to the Association on all interactions with the congressional office.
- Agree to devote about 2-5 hours per month to meet all responsibilities.
A checklist of annual responsibilities will be provided as part of the Key Congressional Contacts intake and orientation process.
American Library Association National Network of Key Congressional Contacts are responsible for insuring that all communications with their assigned congressional office and other elected officials are fully in alignment with Association policy priorities and strategies, and always are conducted according to the highest ethical standards. Similarly, because of their formal designation by and role on behalf of the American Library Association, Key Congressional Contacts agree to work exclusively with, through and on behalf of the ALA on library policy so long as they elect to serve in this voluntary role.
As a pilot state for the National Network of Key Congressional Contacts program, NYLA is targeting ten specific members of Congress. The intention is to expand the program further in subsequent years.
We invite anyone who is interested in the program to apply - even if you do not reside in one of the targeted districts, so that we can build up our roster of those who are interested in the program. Additionally, those not selected to serve as Key Congressional Contacts, may be invited to participate as part of the Key Information Network of Supporters (KINs).
Application Open: November 1 - November 30
Selected Key Congressional Contacts Notified: December 15
Intake and Orientation Session (via Webconference): January 2020
Training Session in Albany, NY: February 24, 2020
National Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C. : May 4-5, 2020
Ongoing activities through December 2022
Terms for the first set of appointed Key Congressional Contacts will be 1-1-2020 - 12-31-2022
For our pilot year, we are targeting the following members of Congress:
- Grace Meng NY6
- Jerrold Nadler NY10
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez NY14
- Nita Lowey NY 17
- Sean Patrick Maloney NY 18
- Antonio Delgado NY 19
- Paul Tonko NY 20
- Elise Stefanik NY 21
- Joseph Morelle NY 25
- Brian Higgins NY 26
Even if your representative is not currently being targeted, please do not hesitate to submit your application.
Key Information Network of Supporters (KINs)
Working under the leadership of the American Library Association’s Key Congressional Contact for their assigned district, and with guidance from the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office staff, KINs members undertake a wide array of activities to educate their elected officials about issues impacting America’s libraries and seek support for the ALA’s policy priorities.
Depending on their interests, skills and availability, each KINs member may specialize in just one or two of the following activities or do a little bit of everything. We’re eager to help you discover impactful activities that you enjoy which also provide professional development growth opportunities!
- Meet with elected officials: Lend your voice in district offices and at the ALA National Library Legislative Day.
- Raise awareness through local media: Partner with your Key Congressional Contact to draft letters-to-the editor and pitch stories.
- Spark social media conversations: Engage online, inspire novices, recruit new advocates and monitor legislator social media accounts for opportunities to comment or retweet.
- Coordinate events and volunteers: Help your ALA Key Congressional Contact recruit and manage a team. Work with ALA staff to invite your member of Congress to an ALA-sponsored event or mobilize advocates to attend town hall meetings or other events they host.
- Call on your connections: Use your existing relationships with legislators and partner organizations to make calls at key moments.
- Share your unique perspective and help educate elected officials about the issues exclusive to your own library’s setting.
American Library Association KINs members commit to report all interactions with their legislators to the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office. They should also plan to participate in occasional planning calls with their assigned Key Congressioanl Contact and other advocates. KINs members are responsible for insuring that all communications with their assigned legislators are fully in alignment with ALA priorities and strategies, and always are conducted according to the highest ethical standards. Also, due to their formal designation by and role on behalf of the ALA, KINs members agree to work exclusively in full support of the policy priorities of the American Library Association so long as they elect to serve in this role.