On January 25 the American Library Association (ALA) rolled out a new and growing collection of advocacy tools on the freshly redesigned ala.org/advocacy.
ALA’s advocacy web pages are organized around developing and cultivating library advocates; providing step-by-step suggestions for anyone who wants to become more active in strengthening ALA’s voice; and advancing the national, state, and local conversations about library and information policy. The concrete examples of storytelling, relationship building, and year-round advocacy are designed to encourage ALA members and library advocates to positively impact how community influencers and decision makers at all levels engage with libraries.
The new advocacy resources were commissioned as part of the campaign Libraries = Strong Communities by ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo, whose presidential advisory committee provided guidance and feedback as ALA undertook a full redesign of the advocacy tools on the site. “The time is ripe for fresh resources to inspire and challenge our advocacy,” Garcia-Febo says. “We all agree on the need to tell our library stories. ALA wants to give members specific tools and guidance for how to do that effectively.”
One of the new resources is a video introduced by Garcia-Febo in her opening remarks at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Seattle, “Advocacy Storytelling 101: Getting Your Library Story in Local News.” The first in a series of three short videos on advocacy, “Advocacy Storytelling 101” shows how one ALA member, Tom Brooks, communications specialist at Cobb County (Ga.) Public Library Ststem, built strong relationships with his local news media. By pitching his library story effectively to reporters, the local paper put the library on the front page and highlighted for the entire community how the library has changed the lives of hundreds of children. While the video shows Brooks’s success story, resources on ALA’s advocacy website show step by step how to reach out to journalists and leverage social media to tell your story.
In addition to the video, the new advocacy website features plug-and-play resources and self-serve downloads designed by a team led by Emily Wagner, assistant director of communications in ALA’s Washington Office. Resources include a calendar to assist in creating year-round advocacy plan, template letters, a congressional calendar, social media graphics, one-pagers, and policy briefs. ALA will continue to add new resources, including two more advocacy storytelling videos, throughout the coming months.
ALA’s Committee on Legislation (COL) also supports efforts to upgrade advocacy resources. “Meeting the challenges in 2019 and, more importantly, making real progress for our nation’s libraries in the long term requires new tools and fresh approaches to advocacy,” says COL member and past chair Kent Oliver.
ALA’s combination of energetic, well-informed advocates in the field and staff with expertise and relationships on Capitol Hill helped bring about many advocacy successes in 2018, including legislation to reauthorize the Institute for Museum and Library Services; ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty, bringing materials to millions of people who are print disabled; and an increase in public access to government data.
ALA welcomes your feedback on these new advocacy tools and invites your ideas for future resources. What information is useful? What would build your confidence as an advocate? View the website and then share your thoughts in a survey at ala.org/advocacy.