How Do I Tell My Story?

Library Advocacy

Who Represents Me Contact Information
How to Talk with Your Legislator
How to Communicate with Your Congressman

What is advocacy?

Advocacy is speaking out and supporting issues that are important to you. It includes offering your opinions and suggestions for how to improve something to the people who are in control. Library advocates believe in the importance of free and equitable access to information in a democratic society. Library advocates believe libraries and librarians are vital to the future of an information literate nation. Library advocates speak out for libraries.

Whose job is advocacy? 

The job of advocacy for libraries is yours if you:
• Use the library for your own information, entertainment, technology needs.
• Encourage your family and friends to use their libraries.
• Believe no one should be denied access to information they need because they cannot afford to buy it.
• Believe that free access to information is vital so people are informed about decisions they make.
• Know that libraries are an important partner in teaching literacy of all types – reading, understanding how to find & use information, technology use with children and adults.
• Care about libraries because they are great democratic institutions that serve people of every age, income level, location, ethnicity, or physical ability, and provide the full range of information resources needed to live, learn, govern, and work. Because libraries bring free access to all, they also bring opportunity to all.

Who can be a library advocate? 

• Everyone who cares about Minnesota’s libraries!
• Library advocates come from all parts of the community. Here are some likely advocates:
• Library trustees & Board members
• Friends of libraries
• Library users (Stakeholders)
• College students, faculty, administrators
• K12 students, teachers, adminstrators, School Board members
• PreK students, parents of students, teachers…
• Business owners
• Government officials
• Community leaders
• Educational Leaders
• Librarians and library staff
• Library and Information Science students

Why advocate for libraries?

Library advocates play a key role in educating our communities about why libraries and librarians are essential in an information society. While ITEM and MLA are well-represented by a professional lobbyist, the voices heard from around Minnesota make the difference in the success or failure of legislation.

Library advocacy is vital in these times for a variety of reasons:

• Public libraries are an integral part of community life. School and academic libraries are very important resources in their larger organizations and to their constituents. Special libraries preserve unique collections reflecting our national heritage.
• Information resources and the need for lifelong learning are increasingly important for each individual in a community.
• Libraries face costly technological changes to keep pace with community needs.
• Libraries compete with other departments of local government to meet increased community needs with shrinking and/or always limited funding.
• Without strong grassroots advocates to speak up, libraries can be lost in the shuffle of democracy’s many voices, and be taken for granted.
Libraries need advocates to "tell the story” & – how has using a library – any library – changed their lives. Did they find a job using library resources? Were their students engaged in research using ELM databases? Did a child discover the joy of reading at the library? Did their business benefit from library resources? We know people love the library; we need to say why they love the library and how libraries have improved their lives.
We can’t assume libraries will always be there or that the “love” will translate to funding. We all know funds are tight, and many different groups are asking for pieces of the same financial pie. We need to let those in charge – state legislators, county commissioners, school superintendents, academic administrations, and others – that we want them to stand up for libraries when it comes time to fund the buildings, staff, and services that make libraries the vibrant, community-centered places we want them to remain. That’s why we need to advocate and collect and tell our stories about how we have helped students, small business, community leaders, and others.
By giving our legislators specific examples of how libraries have made a significant difference in the lives of their constituents, we help others to see what library lovers already know – that even in this era of wireless Internet access, communities schools, towns, counties, colleges, whatever community is – the need of libraries are great.