Your legislator wants to hear from you! You can call your legislator's office to find out about the status of a bill and to convey your opinions. When the Legislature is in session, you may call senators and representatives at their office at the Capitol in Madison. 

Most legislators must be reached at home on Fridays and weekends when the legislature is in session. Some legislators do not mind telephone calls at their homes, but care should be taken to respect a legislator's right to privacy. Use this option ONLY if time is of the essence or if the legislator and his or her staff have been inaccessible.

Here are some recommendations for making phone calls to legislators:

  • Identify yourself by name, address and home town within the legislator's district.
  • Identify the bill or issue by name and number.
  • Briefly state your position on the bill or issue, and how you would like your legislator to vote.
  • Ask for your legislator's view on the bill or issue; be firm in obtaining a commitment to vote.
  • Show appreciation for his or her service or past votes. Be positive! Do not be abusive and do not threaten your legislator.
  • If the Legislature is in session, your representative or senator may be at his or her desk on the floor of the chamber. The legislator's secretary or aide may take a message for you in a phone call. When talking to a secretary or legislative aide: identify yourself by name, address, and hometown; identify the bill by name and number; and state how you would like your legislator to vote.
  • Remember to keep phone calls as brief and to-the-point as possible.
  • Respect the legislator's busy schedule and be as courteous as if you were visiting in person.


Even in this age of electronic communication, writing a personal letter is still one of the most effective ways to reach an elected official. Taking the time to write about an issue shows you care deeply.

A strong letter might include the following:

  • A show of thanks for your legislator's time and support of libraries - use your own words to get your message across. Don't copy a form letter, or even parts of one! When you make the letter entirely your own, your thoughts and convictions will show your sincerity and concern. Remember, you are the expert on libraries. Share your experiences.
  • An invitation - invite your legislator and government staff to use your library as a place for listening sessions, press conferences, or meetings with constituents.
  • A clearly stated position - say exactly what it is that you want your legislator or government official to do. If possible, refer to the issue you're writing about by its official title (such as "Senate Bill 259"). It is best to write about only one proposed law (bill) or issue in each letter.
  • Encouragement to stay connected and knowledgeable - ask your legislator to sign up for your library's e-newsletter or follow you on social media. 
  • Personal experience and stories - legislators want to know how issues affect you, your family, your library and your community, and they learn this from you! Give your letter a personal touch to emphasize the importance and relevancy of key issues. 

And remember!

  • Send your letter in time to affect your legislator's decision.
  • Make sure your letter is easy to read.
  • Sign your full name and address so the legislator or other government official can reply to you.
  • Ask the official to state his/her position on the issue in a reply to you.
  • Address the government official correctly:

The Honorable (name of official)
State Senator (or, State Representative)
(or, Governor of Wisconsin)
State Capitol
Madison, WI Zip Code

Your letter should begin:

Dear Governor (or Senator) (or Representative) (last name):
Appointed officials are also addressed as "The Honorable
with "Mr. or Ms." as the correct title.


Meet With Your Legislators

Legislation can only reflect what the people want if you and others take the time and trouble to inform legislators about what you want. Surprisingly, few people contact their elected officials. It may be difficult to realize that a single visit in person, a phone call or letter can make an impact on a legislator's views toward a piece of legislation, but it certainly can and does! Remember, YOU are the library expert and you have valuable information and perspectives to impart.

Next steps for meeting with your legislators

  1. Make an appointment - legislators and their staff members are busy, so extend them the courtesy of calling in advance.
  2. Think about what you want to say - before your scheduled appointment, review specific bills and background information on key issues provided by WLA or other sources.
  3. Summarize your concerns - in a concise manner, state your position clearly. Remember to be positive, enthusiastic, considerate and appreciative. Be someone your legislators or their staff would enjoy meeting with again!
  4. Share the community context of your message - use personal stories about your library and its patrons in order to make your case and support your position. For example: 
    1. We serve X number of individuals (constituents) each week. They use education, information and reading services such as _____________.
    2. We are doing our best to give citizens of our community (your district) the best possible bang for the library buck!
    3. Utilization of our library, including the growing demand for electronic/computer access, has increased by X percent over the past X number of years. In addition, the cost of materials (books and other publications) has increased.
  5. Tell your legislator what you hope they will do. Share what WLA's top priorities are.
  6. Listen to your legislator's concerns and opinions - they may not always agree with you and it's important to understand the message the legislator/staff is trying to convey. Your legislator is balancing many constituents' concerns and may not always be able to vote as you hope.
  7. Inform your legislator - explain the opposing viewpoints they may encounter and any counter arguments you may have. Don't try to hide information.
  8. Broaden your scope of legislative interest - consider asking open-ended questions to show your interest in the legislative process and to learn about other issues of concern. For example: 
    1. Are you aware of any other library-related issues that have come to your attention, of which I may not be aware?
    2. How do you see the legislative session unfolding? What are the main priorities of the legislature overall this session?
    3. Going beyond library issues, what are the priority issues of the district as you hear from constituents?
    4. Would you have any additional advice for us today on the subjects we have brought up?
  9. Say thank you - thank your legislator for their time and interest. Tell them that you appreciate the efforts on your behalf. Invite the legislator to visit your library or meet with the board of trustees back in the district as your schedule may permit.
  10. Offer your expertise or assistance in the future.
  11. Follow Up -  show appreciation for the visit with a call, letter or card. Make note of any additional information or your answers to questions the legislator may have asked. Keep in touch in order to build on the good will you've established by meeting with the legislator.

With thanks to Citizens for Missouri's Children.