Advocacy School Is In Session

ALA helps you implement an advocacy plan for your hometown

September 1, 2016

Keith Michael Fiels

The American Library Association’s new strategic directions and new advocacy plan chart a bold course to build support for libraries of all types.

With a sustained national advocacy campaign our first priority, the Libraries Transform public awareness program launched last year. More than 3,000 libraries and supporters have already signed on to be part of the campaign. Last year we saw 144,001 page views of LibrariesTransform.org, 12,387 downloads of the library toolkit, 22,000 #LibrariesTransform mentions on Twitter, 65,000 views of Libraries Transform videos, and a post reach of nearly 4.2 million on Facebook!

Advocacy training joins Libraries Transform on center stage this fall. Our work will focus on two major initiatives.

First, the Office for Library Advocacy (OLA) and Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), in coordination with ALA’s Chapter Relations Office, are launching Advocacy Boot Camp, a preconference designed to teach advocacy and intellectual freedom principles, with a focus on implementing an advocacy plan back at home and recruiting the next generation of library advocates.

OLA Director Marci Merola and OIF Director Jamie LaRue promise that this won’t be generic advocacy training. The recent rash of anti-library trends, including the antitax movement, privatization, removal of independent library boards, and deprofessionalization, all constitute a new challenge to our libraries. State by state, Advocacy Boot Camp will help library communities advocate for libraries as fundamental building blocks of democracy, focusing on four key messages: Libraries transform lives; libraries transform communities; librarians are passionate advocates for lifelong learning; and libraries are a smart investment. The first Advocacy Boot Camp is at the Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference in September, followed by the Virginia Library Association Annual Conference in October. Florida and Texas are tentatively scheduled for 2017, and other camps are under discussion.

Second, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), in collaboration with OLA and the ALA Washington Office, is offering a comprehensive workshop on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to each state association affiliate. AASL leaders who are experts in school library services and the educational framework within which they are provided will lead workshops customized to fit the needs of each state. Workshops will include both current and state-specific content on ESSA as well as small group work and sharing of strategies. A peer-to-peer network and support from AASL will help make sure that school library advocates in each state have the support they need for what will be a sustained effort over time.

The workshops build on the ESSA sessions presented by AASL during the 2016 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Florida, and (1) include the most current information on developments at the federal level and work through the sections of ESSA that can be directly linked to the school librarian/library program, (2) connect ESSA language to the school librarian’s role, and (3) discuss current state work with recommendations for opportunities at state and local levels to ensure the “effective school library program” language in ESSA.

For more information on Advocacy Boot Camp or AASL ESSA training, see ala.org/­advocacy/advocacy-bootcamp and ala.org/aasl/advocacy/legislation/essa. For more information about ALA’s strategic directions and advocacy plan, see ala.org/aboutala.