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A good rule of thumb for writing to local officials is to keep the letter short - ideally no more than 5 or 6 sentences. Briefly identify yourself and state where you live, then give your ASK; that is, what it is you are asking the official for (i.e., please vote no on the agenda item banning books with sexual content). Next, state a couple of reasons for your request. Finally, close by restating your ask and thanking the official for their time. Here's a sample letter:

Dear _______,

My name is ______ and I am a resident of _____. I am writing you today to ask that you vote NO on _______ which is scheduled for a vote at this week's library Board of Control meeting. I believe that only parents should make decisions about what their children should read, and that a small group should not have a say in what the rest of the community has access to in public libraries. In addition, I feel that children have the right to see themselves represented in the books they read, and this is only possible when our library contains books that reflect our entire community. 

Again, I ask you to vote NO on _____.



Most newspapers have online submissions forms for letters to the editor, usually in the opinion section. Many limit submissions to 350 words or less, but guidelines vary, so be sure to check with the specific outlet to determine their particular rules.

Your best shot at being published it to write a letter in response to a recent article or local event at your library. Has there been a book challenge in your town recently? A proposal for changes to the library's collection development policies? A ban on displays? These are all great items to respond to in letters to the editor.

Try to tie your opinion to a personal story. How has the issue affected your family? Your experience as a patron of libraries? These types of details make your letter  more compelling and therefore more likely to be published. 

Finally, refrain from personal attacks in your letter. It's fine to criticize public figures and elected officials, but stick to policies and public statements. 

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