Make Time for Library Advocacy in 2021: Tips for Connecting with Your Elected Officials

The start of a new year is a great time to set new goals, work on new projects, and begin advocating for libraries! Reaching out to share information about your library and voicing your opinions on legislation that impacts libraries can lead to tangible benefits in terms of funding and community support. However, getting started in advocacy often can feel intimidating and overwhelming. To help, Justin de la Cruz, Chair of the Committee on Library Advocacy, and Joe Thompson, Chair of the Committee on Legislation, have answered some questions you may have so you, too, can advocate like a pro!

Introducing ALSC’s New Public Awareness and Advocacy Committee

For those of you who may be less familiar with ALSC’s internal committee structure, it may come as a surprise that, beyond award committees, it takes a lot to run the children’s division of ALA. ALSC relies on volunteers and ALSC leaders to develop research, make toolkits, provide professional development opportunities, award grants, plan conferences, recruit and retain membership–and write blog posts here!

Advocacy from home

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. 

Advocacy in the Age of Uncertainty

To borrow a line from Hemingway, how did my library life change in the last month? Two ways: gradually and then suddenly. COVID-19 has radically changed what I think and feel about my job at the library, and I bet it has for you as well. When our programs were cancelled, I accepted it and kept going. When our doors were closed, I bustled with new ideas: I could create an online storytime. I could use our social media to broadcast much-needed information on school lunch distribution and local ordinances. When the mom of one of my book club kids wrote to ask if we could do a digital book club, I added it to my mental checklist of Proof of the Library’s Value. Information I could use to show how necessary we are, in this time of crisis. Data I could show to stockholders once the dust all settled….

Thirty Minutes or Less: Simple Acts of Daily Advocacy

I don’t know about y’all, but my proverbial shelf is full. Full to overflowing most workdays, with never enough time to get it all done. Adding hours of advocacy work on top of the programming, collection development, space maintenance, displays, outreach, desk shifts, readers advisory, marketing, etc. always feels like something I am just a little more behind on than I’d like to be.  Advocacy is often the work that falls off the shelf.  I work in a small, rural library, which means I am a one-woman Children’s department. I’m very fortunate that I get to work with an incredibly collaborative staff at our library. I never have a problem getting a program covered or asking for help with decorating. However, when it comes to advocacy, I realized that no one else can do it for me. I am the subject matter expert. It is my responsibility to keep the…

Outreach with Early Education Organizations as Library Advocacy

Outreach and advocacy tend to go hand in hand, right? We’re intentional advocates when we’re out in the community. We table. We show-off or model a variety of useful resources, often targeted to the groups were engaging. We play and we talk with families about the library and how our work matches up with their needs. The whole time, we’re telling our story, and promoting its vitality to members of the community. In essence, we’re building relationships with new users. This topic is on my mind a lot because it adds meaning and purpose to the outreach I do. So, today I’d like to pose a question I’ve asked myself frequently: what does advocacy look like when we outreach to daycares, preschools, head starts, or other early education organizations – especially when our main role is to facilitate a storytime with children? I serve a heavily populated urban community, so…

Banned Books Week Is Advocacy for Libraries

“Why are these banned?” It was my second week at a new library, and a teen patron was perusing a Banned Books Week display I had hastily put together. A sign read “Banned Books Week 2019” and featured this year’s graphic of a lightbulb from the ALA. There were no handouts or infographics in the display to answer his question. It was a reminder to me that Banned Books Week not only invites people to learn about why books become challenged or banned, but it also allows people to learn that books are challenged and banned in the United States. Founded in 1982, Banned Books Week reaches an estimated 2.8 billion people via mainstream media coverage and inspires countless displays and events across the country. My colleagues on the Advocacy and Legislation Committee shared with me how their libraries celebrated the week: they hosted community read-outs, blogged about Banned Books Week, and crafted Instagram-worthy book…