I just read The Not Too Distant Future blog http://futura.edublogs.org/2010/04/18/rethinking-library-advocacy/
about library advocacy. Two mothers from Spokane WA, Lisa Layera Brunkan and Susan Lloyd McBurney have done a lot of footwork to figure out how we can best advocate for our libraries. While they are focused on school libraries, much of what they have shared applies to public libraries as well.
As they have discovered, we need to advocate for the specific library services lawmakers may care about. Be informed of what is happening in your state/community and address those concerns. Libraries serve so many purposes. Even reminding local lawmakers that the public library serves as a comfort zone during emergencies, such as snow storms, floods etc… is not a bad thing. Nurturing early childhood literacy is in my opinion probably one of the most important things local public libraries can provide. Providing up to date medical information, help with employment skills…. Okay you know the deal, need I say more?
And we have to make it clear that libraries aren’t an enhancement or a luxury. They are a solution. Libraries are a solution, as the Spokane moms point out, for the digital gaps and participation gaps and inequities in our students’ lives. I think they are also a solution to the problems of information literacy, ethical uses of information, college readiness, and more. It’d be a good conversation for librarians to be having within their districts and with their constituents about the problems libraries provide solutions for.
I hadn’t thought of libraries as a “solution” before. And here again, thinking in those terms, try to figure out what specific program or service your library provides a solution for. Libraries need to be relevant and stay relevant to our small and greater communities.
Lastly, if it is not already clear, public libraries are an integral part of the community. Partnering with other community organizations and interest groups can only strengthen everyones mission. Figure out who your advocates are (or should be) and vice versa and lead the way to form a coalition to advocate for education and culture in your community.