The library’s department of Government and Community Affairs helped to organize the trip. We were divided up into ten different teams. There were four or five of us in each group. I was assigned to Team 9. Each team had at least three meetings with state representatives, most of them New York State Assembly Members. I was assigned to one of the few groups that had the opportunity to meet with one of the state senators. Unfortunately, none of the representatives were actually in the offices at the time my group went to go see them. We did meet with their legislative aides to implore for the library’s annual budget. I met specifically with the aides for assembly members Naomi Rivera and Peter Rivera, followed by an afternoon visit to Senator Bill Perkins’ office. My specific part of the presentation was to highlight the documents we provided for the representatives, specifically one which showed the increase in circulation and visits during the last fiscal year and yet another one that lists a breakdown of how the budget cuts will ultimately negatively affect library service throughout the library’s system.
Our group crossed path with many other groups from other libraries. It was nice to see an equally large group of library staff members from the Queens Borough Public Library. Our bus arrived too late for us to properly participate in the morning rally that was held by the New York Library Association, but I made sure to stop by the booth and talk with some people after my first lobby meeting. The entire experience was unlike anything I’ve ever done before. Honestly, it was a little intimidating. And I wasn’t even talking to the representatives themselves! Overall, I’m glad that I got the opportunity to do this. It’s important to keep politicians informed of what the library is and what the library does. In many cases, the legislative aides were unfamiliar with a lot of the services that the New York Public Library provides. Many of them took notes while we were talking, which I found very encouraging. I feel like I helped make a difference. I look forward to hopefully attending the lobby effort next year as well.
~Ryan P. Donovan is a senior librarian with the New York Public Library. He occasionally blogs for nypl.org. You can read his personal blog here.