May 4-8th was National Library Legislative Week (NLLW). Traditionally, National Library Legislative Day entails representatives from libraries across the country going in person to Washington, D.C. or to state capitols in order to lobby congressmen and elected officials for funding. Unable to visit in person, the ALA expanded the day to a week-long advocacy effort, offering daily advocacy activities and trainings online.
If you were unable to participate during NLLW, you can still go back and access the resources and a few of the advocacy tools. It’s never too late to write to your elected officials, and the CMF worksheet on how to tell your story to congress is useful in crafting an advocacy story for any audience. Furthermore, you are always able to sign up as an advocate with your state’s ALA chapter.
Moreover, while NLLW has passed, advocacy remains critical year round. With expected decreased tax revenue across the nation due to the pandemic, it will be even more crucial to advocate for funding for libraries. As the ALA’s 2010 report on the State of America’s Libraries points out, library usage accelerated as a result of the economic downturn of the 2008 recession. Many of the current predictions for the economy look bleak. The services libraries provide to children and their families–from free educational programming to lunches and job search support for adults–will be in higher demand with considerably less funding to provide them as 2020 progresses. Sharing the impact libraries have and making clear why we need funding to continue to be impactful, is critical.
However, like me, you may be tired and a bit burned out by the Covid-19 crisis. With so much at stake for our country and world, advocating for more funding for libraries may be the last thing on your mind. That’s OK. Advocacy is critical, but so is your mental health and well-being. Give yourself time and space. What we are living through is difficult.
When you are ready to start telling your library’s story again, two particularly helpful resources for honing your advocacy message are the Advocacy Tools page and the ALA’s Advocacy Library. On both sites you can find information and quotable facts for whatever your advocacy topic may be. Even if you aren’t writing or calling your elected officials, you can still advocate in your own time and at your own pace. Advocacy is every day. It is the stories we tell about our work in our community that matter.
Bridgid Gallagher-Sauter is a member of the ALSC Advocacy and Legislation Committee. She is a Children’s Librarian with the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.