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Presidential Initiative: Libraries, the Heart of All Communities

Frontline Advocacy Toolkit

This initiative focuses on practical tools to help frontline library staff identify those opportunities to advocate for the value of libraries and their own value on a daily basis.  The toolkits were created by frontline public, school, academic and special librarians with those specific audiences in mind.  

Overview

As library professionals, we know the impact we have on the various communities we serve. We know it’s our job to help our users access information and apply it to their specific needs to help ensure that they can thrive, compete, and in some instances, merely survive in this 21st century economy.

Librarians know that at the heart of our respective communities – in cities, in schools and on campuses around the country- is a strong library, filled with librarians and library support staff who are dedicated to providing programs, resources, and services; supporting critical thinking, curriculum, teaching and learning; building all types of literacy skills for all ages; and providing and safeguarding access to information. We know that a literate public is an informed public and that our library users need multiple literacies including reading, information, digital, cultural literacies in order to access information of all types in all formats.

However, not everyone recognizes the crucial role libraries play. Today and for the future, it is not enough to focus only on providing these vital services. We all must advocate for our respective communities’ right to have them and for the value of our libraries. Additionally, not everyone recognizes the changing scope of responsibilities of librarians and library support staff. All of us must also be able to articulate our value as library workers.

As ALA president, I am calling on the library community to do what it does best: to educate and inform and to disseminate the knowledge that the library is an indispensable institution, greatly in need of support. I am working with ALA to provide resources, tools and trainings to allow you to better articulate what you already know is true: libraries are the heart of all communities.

Initiative Emphases - Advocacy and Literacy

The Advocacy Initiative focuses on “member-driven advocacy“content and training – for librarians, library staff and supporters of all types of libraries. This complements ALA’s existing advocacy efforts focusing on local, state, and federal legislative advocacy. This front-line advocacy features a most critical emphasis on the competencies and content needed to advocate for the library and library needs within the library structure and within our respective communities – cities, counties, higher education environments, and schools/school districts. A Leadership Workgroup, formed in 2009, has built out the vision, articulating both what it is and what it isn’t; identifying target audiences to receive and deliver the message; and establishing goals for the Initiative as well as outcomes for members. In addition, the Leadership Workgroup has created products, matched delivery and content to target audiences and determined marketing and public relations to deliver content to target audiences.

The Literacy Initiative is a natural extension of Advocacy, and our role as library workers is to build community by developing a literate nation. Literacy can take many forms – adult and family literacy, information literacy, digital literacy, economic literacy, cultural literacy – and all are means of the expansive role of libraries and library workers to provide information to inspire, educate, entertain, and bring people together. The Leadership Workgroup works as a collaborative body to bring vision, vitality and a voice to develop content and national attention to libraries and their community impact as literacy builders. The Workgroup has developed a framework to engage library leaders everywhere to focus on current literacy best practices in building community. The Workgroup has developed programs to align other literacy partners in the effort and to use the many communication means throughout ALA to coalesce a comprehensive advocacy for literacy movement. The Leadership Workgroup has developed the platform, publicity and outreach opportunities and a clearinghouse of literacy-based best practices to enable ALA and all libraries to participate.

Structure for Work - Leadership Workgroup & Reactor Advisory Group

The Leadership Workgroup (a.k.a. PRL, like the gem) is comprised of experts in the fields of advocacy and literacy, and in the training of librarians, library staff and library supporters. Fewer than fifteen people were chosen to serve for a two-year term.

Responsibilities include the design of the direction, content and products relating to my advocacy and literacy initiatives. Workgroup member involvement includes working on the overall vision, selection of a Workgroup track (either advocacy or literacy;) a facilitated Workgroup meeting at ALA Headquarters in Fall 2008 to discuss content and determine direction and identification of audience and products; online and electronic exchange of documents as well as meetings at ALA Midwinter and a meeting at ALA Annual Conference. There are conference calls with the two subgroups during the process and drafts and products are exchanged on a wiki.

The Reactor Advisory Group (aka REACT) represents leaders in the library and information science field with extensive experience and knowledge regarding national literacy and advocacy as well as a commitment to furthering education and training of librarians, library staff and library supporters.

Members serve for a two-year term and responsibilities include vetting direction, content and products relating to the literacy and advocacy initiatives for the Leadership Workgroup. Involvement also includes online and electronic exchange of documents as well as possible meetings at ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual Conference. In addition, there will be a minimum of two conference calls with the Alire Presidential Initiative Steering Committee and myself during the process. Advisory Group members are also asked to communicate issues and content back to their constituent groups during the design phase and for final dissemination.

Specifically, Reactor Advisory Group members advise on the following for Literacy: review articulation of community literacy initiative for global look at content; critique of initiative elements such as target audiences; review and assessment of products; review and assessment of the match of product to target audience for correct dissemination; and input on marketing and public relations for initiative products.

The Advisory Group advises on the following for Advocacy: review articulation of advocacy initiative for global look at content; critique of initiative elements such as target audiences; review and assessment of products; review and assessment of the match of product to target audience for correct dissemination; and input on marketing and public relations for initiative products.

 


 
Copyright 2007-10 Camila Alire