Library advocates know that public libraries are essential to their communities. Help your neighbors and legislators understand the value of the library by being an advocate.
1. SPEAK UP!
“Look around you. There are people everywhere who could use their library, and who don’t know about the valuable resources just waiting for them. At the grocery store, student union, the bank, PTA or staff meetings, the post office, in dorms, on a walk with your dog—talk to people and tell them why you love and value the library. Help them see what they could learn there, and how they can help bolster support for this cornerstone of their community, campus or school. It doesn’t take much more than a friendly conversation for you to be a hero for your library!”
Maybe face-to-face isn’t your thing but writing is. Try submitting a letter to the editor or op-ed piece about libraries to your local paper.
You can spread the word online too by following your library on social media and sharing their posts and pictures. Tweet @ your library, tag your library on Facebook, post a library photo on Instagram, or write a Google or Yelp review.
2. YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY AND NLS NEED YOU TO ADVOCATE FOR US.
An advocate is a support, proponent, champion of a cause, service and/or an organization. Advocacy is an important form of civic engagement.
Elected officials respond to constituents. Improving the lives of you and your neighbors is their business! There are several ways to get their attention – and they all have an impact.
Call or email your elected officials and ask for their support
Enroll with the New York Library Association (NYLA) as a library advocate and receive email alerts at critical times in the New York State budget cycle when contacting the Governor and State Legislators really matters for your library. The alerts include an automated tool that you can use to send pre-written (yet customizable) advocacy messages to legislators in your home district.
Participate in Library Advocacy Day
NYLA’s annual Library Advocacy Day brings over a thousand library supporters to the state Capitol to meet with legislators and their staff to discuss library funding and other initiatives that promote the visibility and positive impact of libraries and library systems in our state. Talk to your local library about participating. It’s usually during the first week in March.
3. ROCK THE VOTE
70% of public libraries in Nassau have an annual public vote on their budget and the election of library trustees. Help set the library on a path to success by voting each year – and reminding your neighbors to do so as well.
And in every election, vote for the candidates that support libraries.
4. MONEY TALKS!
Sometimes the best way to show your support is to vote with your wallet.
Join the Friends of the Library or contribute to the Library Foundation
Many libraries have a Friends of the Library group and/or a Library Foundation that fundraises to enhance the programs and services of the Library.
If your library doesn’t have one you may be the perfect person to get one off the ground. Libraries Need Friends, a free toolkit from the American Library Association (ALA), will get you started.
Support New Yorkers for Better Libraries PAC
New Yorkers for Better Libraries is a political action committee (PAC) created and supported by New York library advocates who believe that increased state aid for library systems and their member libraries is essential.
By contributing to the PAC, library supporters can play a role in electing to state offices people who support library systems and their member libraries. Although libraries as institutions must remain politically neutral, library supporters need not.
Donate online at: http://www.newyorkersforbetterlibraries.org
5. STAY INFORMED
Libraries are at the forefront of a number of key policy and rights issues, including privacy, net neutrality, copyright, and censorship. If these issues interest you sign up for email blasts from ALA’s District Dispatch.
If you’re curious how libraries intersect with trending issues like the sharing economy, income inequality, artificial intelligence, and fandom check out the weekly Read for Later newsletter, which points readers to food-for-thought articles.