Advocacy: Think Nationally/Act Locally

Image courtesy of EveryLibrary.org Few of us have the opportunity to participate in ALA’s National Library Legislation Day—but did you know that very best and most effective library and political advocacy is actually local? Here are a few simple “how to’s” that will keep you in the know and build your knowledge and skills around advocacy… for national library legislation, for funding, and sensible Federal regulations that can have a powerful local impact. 1. Register to vote via your local Board of Elections. or by mail . Though many folks prefer not registering for a specific party (they like their Independent voter status) being a party member does allow you to vote in party primaries. 2. Vote in every election you can. If you cannot vote in person—be sure to secure an absentee ballot. (My Congresswoman in the NY–9 was primaried this year. I was able to vote before I left…

Serving on the ALSC Advocacy & Legislation Committee

After three years, my time on the ALSC Advocacy & Legislation Committee has come to an end. When I was first asked to serve on this committee, my initial reaction was to decline (hard pass). What did I know about advocacy (besides being a loud mouth) or legislation (besides that it is usually complicated), in relation to libraries? After talking it out with friends, I regained my composure to accept the initial appointment, and a later appointment as co-chair. Because, ultimately, I saw not only an incredible opportunity to make a positive impact in the profession, but a learning opportunity for myself. As my final act on this committee I wanted to share with you some of the work this committee has done, and encourage you to be involved in a process committee in the future.   During the last three years, this committee has: Changed to a fully virtual…

From Awareness to Funding: Voter Perceptions and Support of Public Libraries in 2018 as Advocacy Tool

If you haven’t seen or heard, OCLC has partnered with PLA, and the ALA Office for Library Advocacy, and recently released a report on library perceptions and support among US voters. It’s called From Awareness to Funding: Voter Perceptions and Support of Public Libraries in 2018. This new report can be compared to a similar study done by OCLC in 2008 called From Awareness to Funding: A Study of Library Support in America. There is a free webinar, presented by WebJunction, which presents the new research findings with comparisons to the research done 10 years earlier. These findings can help shape our advocacy efforts. Hence the hashtag: #awareness2funding ! According to the new study, a majority of US voters value public libraries. That’s good news! However, the study also included some disheartening news, especially in the Youth Services world. Brace yourselves… Fewer voters are likely to see the library as…

Everyday Advocacy Has Lots to Offer

With National Library Legislative Day (May 7-8) just about a month away, this seems an appropriate time to remind everyone about Everyday Advocacy (EA)! Are you familiar with EA? According to ALSC’s EA website, Everyday Advocacy is “a grassroots effort that starts with you and the incredible things you’re already doing for the youth and families you serve.” Consider Everyday Advocacy an antidote to the advocacy intimidation factor! Need more convincing? Just take another (or first) look at the site. It truly is filled with resources compiled to help you get comfortable in the role of advocate or to get inspired to do more in the way of advocacy. Here’s just a small sampling of what you will find at the Everyday Advocacy site: Be Informed | The Power of Stories Human beings learn through stories. A well-told story is an extremely compelling way to convey your message, which will…

Advocacy Challenge: Ask “Why?”

Hopefully, many of you are feeling energized and refreshed after the Midwinter Meeting. Are you pumped about all the great things libraries are doing to help their communities grow and thrive, starting with our youngest citizens?    This month, I challenge you to take a look at the programs and services you currently offer, or want to offer, and ask yourself “why?” In my opinion, this is the first step in library advocacy. Library advocacy is supporting, and garnering support for, the library (including staff and departments), or a library product. To be successful, library advocates must understand the “why”, or else we’re just marketing services. Marketing is great, but you do not need to know why a program or service is important in order to entice people to attend the program, or use a service.   Let’s use a program, called “Play Date,” as an example. If I make a…

Advocacy Through Programming

When considering how to best advocate for services and programs offered by public libraries in our current environment, which includes a proliferation of information and digital access to multitude of sources, I tried to answer the questions: To whom is this program or service of value? How are we changing the landscape of our communities? How are we advancing the mission of public libraries to fight oppression and inequity? With those questions in mind, I will walk you through a small program that had big impact in our community and sent a strong message of our values and the tenets in our community. Remember that advocating is not only done by messaging, advertisement, or campaigns. We advocate every day through relevant services, programs, and collections. Creating strategic community programs and showing how essential libraries are to children and adults is a great way to advocate for libraries. In 2016, like…

Refine your advocacy skills at 2018 ALA Midwinter

The 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting is right around the corner. Before you get too far along in planning your schedule, I want to highlight the advocacy-related meetings taking place. The fun begins on Friday, Feb. 8th, with the Advocacy and Intellectual Freedom Bootcamp and Advocacy Training Institute. At these two ticketed events, organized by ALA’s Office of Library Advocacy and Office of Intellectual Freedom, you will learn proven strategies to effectively implement an advocacy plan for your library and garner the support of your community. After learning the nuts and bolts of library advocacy, sit in on a committee meeting. Both the Committee on Library Advocacy and PLA’s Legislation and Advocacy Committee meet on Saturday morning followed by an afternoon meeting of the UNITED Legislation, Advocacy & Intellectual Freedom Committee. All three meetings are open and included with full conference registration. You can find these and other advocacy-related meetings in the…

Member Content Editor Sought for Everyday Advocacy (EA) Initiative

For nearly five years now, the Everyday Advocacy (EA) initiative has been educating and supporting librarians and library workers serving youth on the importance of advocacy and providing tools to assist them in articulating their own value within the library profession and community. Jenna Nemec-Loise, EA Member Content Editor, has worked tirelessly over those five years, establishing Everyday Advocacy through her work on the website, quarterly EA Matters newsletter, Take Action Tuesday and EA challenges, Children & Libraries columns, and so many other efforts. Now, Jenna is ready to pass the baton on to a new member content editor who can continue the good EA work with energy, ideas, and a passion for advocacy! We heartily thank Jenna for all she’s done to nurture and grow Everyday Advocacy. We will miss her advocacy acumen, but we also look forward to working with the next Everyday Advocate extraordinaire. That’s right; ALSC…