This is a huge topic for all libraries! If you think your library does not need advocacy, ask yourself: do you like getting paid? Do you like to have materials for your patrons? Is it fun to have a building to shelter your stuff from the rain??
It can all go away without good advocacy!!
We all know it’s important, but it sounds scary. Halloween is over; so no need for terror. Advocacy in generally pretty simple. It goes like this:
- We have good stuff
- We tell people about our good stuff
- We connect that message to them, in a way that resonates with them
- We get more resources (money, etc.) to keep our stuff and get more
- We have good stuff
See? It’s easy!
Okay, of course there is a little more to it. We can add in some details, work through some ideas – but this is the gist of it all.
And, like all the other big important topics in the library world – you are not alone here. The American Library Association has you covered with information and training.
You probably want to start at their home page of the Office for Library Advocacy. “The Office for Library Advocacy (OLA) supports the efforts of advocates seeking to improve libraries of all types by developing resources, a peer-to-peer advocacy network, and training for advocates at the local, state and national level.”
An easy place to get started is this short PDF handbook called Speak Out: A Guide to Being Heard and Agreed With in the Policymaking Process. I like this because it breaks information into topics we could easily use, including these:
- I Don’t Know What to Say
- I Don’t Have Time
- No One Has Asked Me
Advocacy is not always about making policy. It also means encouraging good state and federal budgets pass, and interacting at a high level about the profession. This guide can help you to get those things done, but also give you some ideas to get started on some smaller issues close to home.
The Advocacy University page is FILLED with all kinds of information to help you feel confident in advocacy of all types! “Advocacy University is a comprehensive clearinghouse of advocacy tools and resources for all types of libraries from the American Library Association.” They build on the material found in the “Speak Out” handbook, and add all kinds of other ideas:
Resources by Topic
- Budgets, funding & fundraising
- Challenges to library materials
- Coalition building
- Getting started as a library advocate
- Working with elected officials
- Internet safety
- Outsourcing & privatization
- Public relations & dealing with the media
- Salaries & pay equity
- Value of libraries
- ALA Presidential Initiatives
You should already be seeing ideas that get you started on some good advocacy work!
Feeling ready? Feeling strong in your advocacy?? Let’s move on to even more information to help you! The Library Advocate’s Handbook is a pretty substantial volume,and jam-packed with all kinds of ideas to help you in your advocacy work! You can download a PDF copy here (in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Slovenian); or you can buy a paper copy for $5 plus P&H. “Used in conjunction with training at state, regional and national library conferences, the Library Advocate’s Handbook has reached thousands of library advocates, enabling them to increase public awareness and support for library services.”
Take the first step of being a good advocacy for your library, and the library profession: find one person and tell them about a great thing in the library. Just one. You will notice you feel that “hey…this is fun! this is easy! I could do this again!” kind of feeling sweeping through you. Go with that!! Do it again tomorrow. If you want to expand it out and talk to TWO people – I support you in that! Send me an email and tell me about your successes!!
Of course CMLE is also available to help out with your advocacy needs and planning. Contact us today to chat about some work for your library!