Canadian libraries received unprecedented attention on Parliament Hill this week. On Wednesday May 30, 2012 sixty-three MPs and Senators opened their offices and set aside time in their busy calendars to meet with CLA (Canadian Library Association) members. Thanks to Maureen Barry, CEO of Burlington Public Library in Burlington, Ontario for providing this update on this initiative.
Most of the library advocates had participated in advocacy training in a pre-conference or tele-conference briefing. The energy was high among CLA participants and MPs and Senators were both attentive and gracious. Documentation prepared by CLA and by Impact Public Affairs was excellent in providing the guidelines for successful discussions.
I was teamed with my friend and colleague Sonia Lewis (CEO Kitchener Public Library) and we were scheduled for meetings with one of the MPs from my community (Mike Wallace MP Burlington) and with the MP from Vancouver Centre (The Honourable Dr Hedy Fry). As Dr Fry was involved in a extended session in the House we met with her assistant. Although Sonia and I had not been available for the advocacy training we were impressed by the written documentation and email tips we received in advance of our meetings. Our key messages during these meetings included the recent reductions announced by Library and Archives Canada, Copyright legislation (Bill C-11), the Library Book Rate (Bill C-321) and the elimination of funding for the Community Access Program. Mr. Wallace and the Honourable Dr Fry’s assistant were well versed in all of the issues and readily engaged in the discussions and had questions and advice. It was encouraging to see how knowledgeable the MPs and their staff are when it comes to library issues. Our access to 63 MPs and Senators in their Parliamentary offices was unprecedented and our messages were most definitely heard. Congratulations and thank you to CLA and to Impact Public Affairs for arranging the training and the meetings. It was an enormously successful and important afternoon in the history of library advocacy in our country.