Moving Forward with Libraries Transform

Because it's time

March 1, 2016

Libraries Transform

Quite a buzz was generated at the 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting by Libraries Transform, ALA’s new multi-year public awareness and advocacy campaign. “Because” statements and a new video were widely displayed throughout the convention center, and attendees were quick to find messaging that resonated and to decide to use the campaign in their libraries.

While bold banners and thought-provoking statements might be enough to capture the community’s attention, the question that library professionals have been asking is what it means to be a “Libraries Transform library.” What does the campaign look like inside the library doors?

We’ve been responding to that question with a question of our own: What does transformation look like in your library? While there’s a tendency to connect Libraries Transform to high-tech services, it can be as simple—and as powerful—as offering job help or teaching a child or adult to read. Libraries transform lives. And although no one knows this more than the people who serve in libraries, we also know that the challenge for the profession as a whole is how to talk about it outside of the library community. How do we capture the transformation that occurs in libraries and convey our message to stakeholders?

The good news is that work has already begun. Libraries Transform builds on a legacy of advocacy initiatives, all of which stress the power of connecting a strong message, a personal story, and statistics.

To that end, ALA is seeking stories of library transformation to showcase and share. An expanded (and growing) toolkit offers messaging, programming ideas, social media tools, downloadable art, a link to products available through the ALA Store, and more, all in order to make it easy for library professionals to get involved, and to connect the campaign to existing initiatives such as National Library Week (April 10–16).

“Transforming libraries starts with transforming ourselves,” wrote 2006–2007 ALA President Leslie Burger. Her Libraries Transforming Communities initiative provides a sound basis for what it means to be a part of this profession in changing times. Although a decade old, the “ideas and inspiration on what it means to have a transformed library” are still fresh. The complete document is also available online.

Libraries Transform undoubtedly gained momentum at the Midwinter Meeting. On Tuesday of the meeting, ALA Council unanimously voted for a resolution to support the Advocacy Implementation Plan of the new ALA strategic directions, including a public awareness and advocacy campaign as a prime strategy, and urged “cross-division and organizational collaboration to galvanize the membership and advance the Advocacy Implementation Plan and Libraries Transform through the power of collective impact.”

But there’s much more to do if we are to reach the campaign’s ultimate goal of increased funding for libraries. Libraries Transform is building on past successes and looking to ALA members for new successes, best practices, and examples of how the campaign is working. To get involved, visit