Advocacy for Libraries

[last update 8 October 2003]



Advocacy has been defined as "the process of turning passive support into educated action by stakeholders." ALA advocacy presently includes several distinct elements: (a) ongoing public information, (b) support for local public relations, through provision of graphics and other materials, (c) advocacy training, both national and local, (d) recurring events, ranging from the annual National Legislative Day to Banned Books Week, and (e) the national/international "@ your library" campaign.

KEY ACTION/PRIORITY AREAS:  Advocacy/Public Awareness, International Relations, Legislation/Funding
RELATED ISSUES:  all, especially Library Funding, all public policy-related issues


ALAction 2005:  By 2005, ALA will have increased support for libraries and librarians by communicating clearly and strongly why libraries and librarians are both unique and valuable.
        Indicated strategies: (a) ALA will have developed and conducted a high-level public media campaign, focusing on the critical 21st Century role of libraries and librarians in connecting people with information, culture, and social/historical context.  (b) ALA will have productive partnerships with allied professional organizations, to increase the reach of this critical message. (c) ALA's 60,000+ members will deliver this message effectively in a broad range of communities and situations.


  • CIPA decision
  • Better salaries and pay equity advocacy
  • More ALA presence in advocacy efforts at the state and local levels


  • ALA Public Information Office/ALA Public Awareness Committee
  • ALA Washington Office/ALA Committee on Legislation
  • ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom/ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee
  • Association for Library Trustees and Advocates (ALTA)
  • Chapter Relations Office/Chapter Relations Committee
  • International Relations Office/International Relations Committee
  • Other ALA divisions, particularly ACRL, AASL, and PLA with the type of library campaigns
  • Other ALA offices


  • Allied Professional Associations and Affiliates
  • ALA Champions
  • Friends of Libraries USA


  • 1892- ALA members prepared an exhibit promoting libraries for the Columbian Exhibition.
  • 1909 - ALA formed the Committee on Federal and State Relations.
  • 1921 - ALA commissioned John T. McCutcheon to draw a poster advocating library use.
  • 1958 - The 1st National Library Week was observed: "Wake Up and Read!"
  • 1964 - President Lyndon B. Johnson included libraries in his State of the Union address and library leaders were present at the signing of the Library Services & Construction Act.
  • 1969 - Leaders of the American Library Trustee Association (now Association of Library Trustees and Advocates) marched on Washington DC following the ALA Annual Conference. 100 community leaders from 33 states met with 100 congressmen to push for library funding.
  • 1973 - ALA joined with the DC Library Association to establish the National Library Legislative Day.
  • 1981 - ALA President Elizabeth Stone appointed a task force to develop a universal graphic library symbol.
  • 1981 - ALA inaugurated the celebrity "Read" series; the first celebrity was Mickey Mouse.
  • 1982 - ALA, the American Booksellers Association and the National Association of College Stores held the first Banned Books Week, "celebrating the right of each individual to choose the books that he or she wants to read."
  • 1984 - ALA joined with 50 national organizations to form the National Library Week Partnership Program "to help promote the annual celebration of reading and libraries."
  • 1984 - A national public awareness campaign on literacy was launched (produced by the Advertising Council) to focus attention on the "hidden" problem of illiterate adults and to recruit volunteer tutors.
  • 1985 - The national library symbol adopted by ALA was approved by the Federal Highway Administration.
  • 1989 - ALA Council established the Public Information Office Advisory Committee.
  • 1991 - ALA President Patricia Glass Schuman launched Library Advocacy Now! (LAN) training.
  • 1992 - The "Call for America's Libraries: Say Yes to Your Right to Know!" campaign was launched, including radio rallies.
  • 1994  ALA President Arthur Curley launched "Library Advocacy Now" training and network of advocates
  • 1996 ALA President Betty Turock launched "Advocacy on the Information Superhighway" training and network
  • 1998 - ALA/YALSA and the ALA Public Information Office launched Teen Read Week.
  • 2001 - The Campaign for America's Libraries (the @Your Library campaign) was launched, to present a "positive, consistent set of messages over a period of years."
  • 2001 - In partnership with IFLA, the Campaign for the World's Libraries was launched
  • 2002 - The Campaign for America's Librarians, Better Salaries and Pay Equity was launched.
  • 2003 - The Academic and Research Library Campaign (part of the @ Your Library campaign) was launched at the ACRL National Conference.
  • 2003 The School Library Campaign (part of the @ Your Library campaign) will launch at the AASL National Conference in October.


Issue Summaries

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