Making Plans to Attend
Making Plans to Attend
- Register all members of your group on the MLA website.
- Find a buddy. Most regional public library and multitype library systems help arrange delegations for Legislative Day. The system may make the appointments with the legislators. Check with your regional public library system and/or multitype to see how appointments are handled.
- No buddy, but still want to go? Contact the LegWork Committee (LegWorkMLA@gmail.com) prior to Legislative Day; we will find you a group to join.
- You are welcome to go on your own, but please follow the message of current MLA/ITEM legislative priorities. Make your appointments directly with the legislators’ offices and tell them you are visiting on behalf of Minnesota libraries.
- Make your appointments with legislators in advance of the day. Most legislative offices will ask if you have a constituent in your group, so if you are making appointments for a group, you will need that info. Only one person in the group needs to make the appointment.
- Note: MLA/ITEM do not make the appointments.
- Share your appointments here, so that we can coordinate where possible.
- Allow walking time between appointments when scheduling.
Hints for a Successful Visit
- Be sure to exchange cell phone numbers with group members.
- Dress for the weather and the situation! The Capitol complex is connected by tunnels, so you can often get away without a coat. There is a coat rack in the L’Etoile du Nord, which will be available until 4:00pm.
- Pack light! Leave your heavy bags at home and carry only what you need for survival.
- Bring your business cards to leave with the legislator or aide.
- Wear comfortable shoes! You will be walking a lot!
- Bring a camera or cell phone to take pictures. Legislators love shout-outs and thank yous. Take a picture of the group with the legislator, share on social media with hashtags, and send a copy to your legislator. Have a designated photographer in your group or ask legislative staff.
- Plan breaks throughout the day. There is seating throughout the complex, including in L'Etoile du Nord.
- Water--there are fountains throughout the complex to fill your water bottle.
- Restrooms are abundant and easy to find throughout the Capitol complex.
- Be on time, but understand that your legislator is busy and may be running late. You also may have to speak with a staff member, who will carry your message and materials to the legislator.
- Be sure they know if you are a constituent--you may be asked to sign in with your home address. You don’t have to be a constituent to visit, but they will want to know.
- Have a designated person lead the conversation. Everyone should introduce themselves.
- Explain why you are here—to ask for their support on library legislation.
- Take notes in the meeting, especially any follow-up you promise.
- Be professional and diplomatic in your conversation.
- Listen carefully; try to draw out specific answers to your questions. If a legislator asks you a question you don’t know the answer to, let them know you’ll get back to them (and do so).
- Put the issues in human terms, and be as inclusive as possible, attempting to find common ground if there are disagreements. If possible, bring along citizens or Friends that can speak to the issues and requests.
- Don't forget the "Ask": "This is what we want you, Senator or Representative, to do for libraries."
- Invite the legislator to visit your library and offer to be a contact for library issues.
- When your time is up, thank the legislator for their time.
- Leave your packet of information and business cards.
- End your visit with a thank you and repeating the Ask, “We hope we can count on your support for our requests."
Preparing for the Visits
- Read the legislative priorities and supporting documents before you get there so you know the issues.
- Attend one of the briefings. The information is the same at both: bill numbers, re-enforcing our message, any last minute issues or information, plus an opportunity to ask questions.
- Create your message and collect your stories. It would be best to have a written statement or notes to refer to when you are speaking with your legislator.
- Prepare/rehearse what you want to say. Depending on the session schedules and other factors, chances are you will have about 5-10 minutes with your legislator or an aide. Have your speech ready!
- Inform your group about the message you want to get across. Written handouts that group members can refer to for talking points are helpful.
- Think of a story that shows how libraries transform.
- All of the 'leave-behind' material is available online on the Advocacy website. You can pick up copies at the briefings.
- If you are attending as part of a delegation, your system will likely have a packet of information for you to leave with the legislator.
If you were unable to schedule a meeting, you can still drop by the legislator’s office on Legislative Day and talk to a legislative assistant to see if the representative has some time to talk.
If you can’t get a meeting, be sure to leave an information packet, along with a note about libraries and your business card. Be sure they know if you are a constituent--you may be asked to sign in with your home address. If you are visiting someone who represents a district your library serves, indicate that, too.You can also drop by the office of any relevant legislator--i.e. one who is on a committee important to libraries.
You can also contact your legislator later! Check out the tools for contacting your legislator via phone, email, or social media.