Library associations are key advocates for the future of libraries. These associations are made of membership from academic, public, school, special, and state libraries. However, in order to communicate an effective message, the many must become one. One Voice leads to stronger membership, stronger professional development, stronger legislative cohesiveness, and stronger advocacy effectiveness. The State Ecosystem Task Force of the Committee on Library Advocacy (COLA) was created to help build stronger relationships between associations, state library organizations, and ALA. The task force created One Voice: The Toolkit to help library organizations access and extend the strength of their ecosystems.
What is a library ecosystem?
The Library Ecosystem definition from the ALA Ecosystem Initiative Website is as follows:
A library ecosystem is the interconnected network of all types of libraries, library workers, volunteers, and associations that provide and facilitate library services for community members; families; K-20 learners; college and university communities; local, state and federal legislatures and government offices; businesses; nonprofits; and other organizations with specific information needs.
A patron of one library is the potential patron of any other library at a different time of life or location. No library exists independent of the library ecosystem. When we stand together in mutual support using common messaging themes that demonstrate this interconnectedness, every library is stronger.
What are the pillars of a healthy ecosystem?
The toolkit identifies the four pillars of leadership, communication, collaboration, and sustainability. The Ecosystem Continuum is a rubric to help assess your current state and where there is room to improve in each of these pillars.
Who Are the People in Your Ecosystem?
In viewing the recorded webinar, Who Are the People in Your Ecosystem? presented by ALA’s State Ecosystem Task Force on October 29, 2020, I heard from individuals who are doing the work to strengthen their ecosystems. In Tennessee, Sharon Edwards shared the success of Tennessee Library Association in fighting the Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act. Strong leadership, messaging and collaboration coordinated across a broad library ecosystem led to the defeat of Bill HB2721, increased public awareness, professional development, and sustainable advocacy strategies. Sharon said that legislators were “blown away” by the overwhelming number of calls, meetings and emails. Using CQEngage campaign elements, more than 12,000 emails were sent to elected officials. Their Friends of the Library coordinated calls and emails, too, and ALA and the Office of Intellectual Freedom issued public statements. That was just part of their ecosystem at work.
Find Out More!
Get started with the Ecosystem Implementation Guide.
Get cooking with the recipe for Strong Library Ecosystem as Sourdough Bread.
Today’s blog post was written by Jackie Cassidy, Senior Assistant Manager, Children’s Services, Harford County Public Library, on behalf of the ALSC Public Awareness and Advocacy Committee.
This blog relates to ALSC Core Competencies of I. Commitment to Client Group; V. Outreach and Advocacy and VI. Administrative and Management Skills.