Real Coalitions in Action

Alaska Senate Bill 119    

Lead Organization: Alaska Association of School Librarians

Location: State of Alaska

Coalition Partners: Alaska Association of School Librarians (AASL); Alaska State Library (ASL); Alaska Library Association (AKLA); parents and library supporters.

Issue/Goal:
Public library construction grants and funding for school libraries to purchase new library materials.

Strategies:

  • Finding an elected official willing to sponsor legislation.
  • Gathering written and oral testimony to send to the legislative committees.
  • Contacting people by e-mail and telephone to get the word out.

Outcomes:
Passage of Senate Bill 119 in 2008, which provides public library construction grants for up to 50% in matching funds, as well as up to $3,000 in direct funding for each school library in the state to purchase new library materials.

Lessons Learned:
Close collaboration among interested parties and a willing elected official to sponsor the bill gets results.

Synopsis:
On June 6, 2008, Governor Sarah Palin signed Senate Bill 119 in Alaska, marking a significant achievement by a committed group of librarians, parents and library supporters in that state. This law provides public library construction grants for up to 50% in matching funds and up to $3,000 in direct funding for each school library in the state to purchase new library materials. Senate Bill 119 now waits for funding in the 2009 legislative session. The story behind this bill reveals precisely how a strong and organized advocacy coalition can reach its goals.
Sue Sherif, the head of library development at the Alaska State Library was the initial force behind the bill. Elementary school librarian Barb Bryson of Valdez, the Alaska Association of School Librarians President at the time, took up the task of finding an elected official willing to sponsor legislation to benefit libraries. During the winter of 2007, librarians meeting in Juneau for the Alaska Library Association sought out a sponsor at the state capital building, finding a willing participant in Senator Donny Olsen of Golovin, Alaska. As Charlotte L. Glover of the Ketchikan Public Library notes, “Barb began the long task of rallying forces, learning the legislative ropes, lining up speakers and keeping track of the progress of the bill.
Barb worked hard to find rural and urban librarians from school and public libraries, as well as parents, library board members and friends of libraries.” These people provided written testimony and sent public opinion messages to the legislative committees. By using a listserv and working the phones, Barb provided updates from Senator Olsen as the bill made its way through the system. Barb’s hard work and years of cooperation among the librarians, community members, the state library and the longtime lobbyist who works on behalf of the Alaska Library Association and the Alaska Association of School Librarians all contributed to this success story.

Contact:
Charlotte Glover
Ketchikan Public Library, Alaska
charg@firstcitylibraries.org

See also:

www.akla.org
www.akla.org/akasl
www.library.state.ak.us

[Tags: Alaska; AASL; ASL; AKLA; school libraries, Senate Bill 119; construction; construction grants; funding; matching funds; materials; sponsor; state; rural; urban; parents; library board; friends of the library; lobbyist]

Fayetteville Public Library    

Lead Organization: Fayetteville Public Library provided some funding and coordination. The Friends of the Fayetteville Public Library led its own effort to reach out to its members and also support those of the legal entity formed to organize the referendum campaign. “Citizens for a New Library” was the legal entity formed to pass a sales tax by the voters to build a new 88,000 square foot, $23.4 million main library. The Library Board of Trustees was also a focal point that helped tie it all together.

Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas (and surrounding areas)

Coalition Partners: Fayetteville Public Library; The Friends of the Fayetteville Public Library; Citizens for a New Library; The Fayetteville Library Board of Trustees; various civic groups; ad hoc exploratory committee of business, civic and educational leaders.

Issue/Goal:
Funding and construction of a new 88,000 square foot, $23.4 million main library.

Strategies:

  • Over three-dozen public meetings held by the Library Board of Trustees.
  • The formation of the Friends of the Public Library Foundation.
  • Formation of an exploratory committee, a feasibility committee, and the referendum campaign (temporary sales tax) committee co-headed by a local bank president and noted person affiliated with the University of Arkansas.

Outcomes:
The referendum was approved by 75% of the voters which served as an excellent segue to a capital campaign to raise the additional $6 million needed to complete the project and create an endowment, which was also successful. A new facility was completed in 2004 on time, under budget and without any debt. The building was paid for in cash. The top gift — to name the building — was $3 million, given in 2002 by Jim Blair in memory of his late wife, grandmother and aunt.

Lessons Learned:

  • Everything successful begins at the grass roots level with open and respectful communication.
  • Formal and informal strategies are essential.
  • Small steps can mean big results.
  • Champions emerge when you least expect it. When they do, be ready.
  • Listen carefully to the people.
  • Think big and hire the best.

Synopsis:
Since its inception in 1830, Fayetteville has been an education-focused community and was one of the first to integrate. People care deeply about the community’s learning institutions, and while the library had languished in mediocrity for many years, the effort to bring excellence on the level of other top public libraries caught the attention of community leaders. The proposed new library was, architecturally, a “stretch” for a community that, historically, lacked deep pockets. Some called it the “Taj Mahal” and others thought it was unnecessary because “libraries were just warehouses for books.” But some influential people saw the potential of the project to raise the quality of life, enhance economic development and attract newcomers. These people sought out and supported the project and formed a loose, informal coalition. One was the visionary behind the city’s art center; another was a former congressional candidate. A local bank president and corporate employee worked informally together to ameliorate potential opposition from the Chamber of Commerce. These types of efforts were all done outside of the media and any formal networks.
The strategies employed were both formal and informal, and included dozens of public and invited-input meetings, the formation of the FPL Foundation, an exploratory committee, a feasibility committee, and the referendum campaign committee — co-headed by a local bank president and a luminary affiliated with the University of Arkansas. These strategies built understanding, trust and support for the goals of the project across a wide spectrum of the community. Informal activities grew out of these formal strategies. Most are not documented but consist of efforts to spread awareness of the project and its benefits and reduce potential opposition.
When it became clear there would be opposition if a property tax was sought, efforts by the FPL Foundation to identify other funding sources began. They settled on a temporary sales tax that would allow the building to be paid for in cash, i.e. no bond indebtedness. However this would need support by the mayor of Fayetteville. While it was received, an 18-month window was the maximum supported. Because the funds generated from this time period would not cover the projected $23.4 million cost, a feasibility group was assembled (comprising representatives from the University of Arkansas, businesses, philanthropists and financiers) to assess the viability of seeking charitable donations for funding part of the project. These various efforts resulted in an increased advocacy base and allowed identification of the major supporters, as well as potential opposition.
The referendum for the temporary sales tax was approved by 75% of the voters and the capital campaign to raise the additional $6 million needed to complete the project and create an endowment was also successful.

Contact:
Louise Schaper, Executive Director, Fayetteville Public Library, Fayetteville, AR
lschaper@faylib.org
www.faylib.org

[Tags: Fayetteville Public Library; Citizens for a New Library; Mayor; temporary sales tax; capital campaign; construction; endowment; library board; friends of the library foundation; University of Arkansas; formal; informal; public awareness; “Taj Mahal”; naming rights]

Santa Cruz School Libraries    

Location: Santa Cruz, California

Coalition Partners: School librarians and library media assistants

Lead Organization: The Friends of Santa Cruz School Libraries

Issue/Goal:
To advocate for school libraries in Santa Cruz and increase the visibility of school library media programs, library media teachers and library media assistants.

Strategies:

  • Attend school board meetings and present oral reports.
  • Write letters to the editor when cuts to school libraries or library media teachers are threatened.
  • Use the website to communicate our issues.

Outcomes:
Increased visibility for school libraries and library media staff.

Lessons Learned:
Don't get discouraged. It’s hard to get noticed, but persistence pays off in the sense that the issue is consistently “out there.”

Synopsis:
The Friends of Santa Cruz School Libraries is a non-profit organization formed in 2003 with a seven-member board consisting of retired school librarians, a public librarian, parents, a local school board member and a college librarian. They hold monthly meetings attended by school librarians and library media assistants. To share information and publicize their cause, the organization publishes a quarterly newsletter and maintains a website. Their mission is to press for support of school librarians in the school district and to advocate for maintaining funding levels for the librarians and library media assistants so that they can teach the students valuable library and research skills. As advocates for an ongoing issue, the group remains vigilant in its efforts to support school libraries.

Contact:
Topsy Smalley,The Friends of Santa Cruz School Libraries
tosmalle@cabrillo.edu

Website: http://foslsantacruz.org

[Tags: Santa Cruz School Libraries; California; school; librarians; media assistants; Friends; visibility; website; funding]

Colorado Association of Libraries    

Lead Organization: Colorado Association of Libraries (CAL)

Location: Colorado (statewide)

Coalition Partners: Multi-type libraries within the State of Colorado; Colorado Municipal League

Issue/Goal:

  • The Colorado Association of Libraries works to have at least one representative from every library district attend the Colorado Legislative Day.
  • CAL strives to improve and coordinate communication and advocacy efforts with multi-type and all types of libraries.
  • CAL works to reduce funding cuts
  • CAL’s legislative committee works together with other affected organizations on issue-based advocacy efforts as they come up
  • CAL’s advocacy for intellectual freedom is a reoccurring issue with each new batch of freshman legislators.

Strategies:

  • CAL-A-THON communication efforts assist in reaching voters in every district of the state and raise the level of awareness about issues that affect libraries (using Capwiz).
  • CAL formed a Strategic Initiatives and Emergency Response (SIER) committee. This committee was created to control the message response to sudden changes in the political climate. Honing messages to “say what we really mean.” SIER works together with the CAL Marketing Committee.

Synopsis:
While the Colorado Association of Libraries has not formed formal advocacy coalitions so far, it has built some of the infrastructure necessary to do so in the future. The formation of the CAL Strategic Initiatives and Emergency Response (SIER) committee demonstrates an organic response to the rapidity at which information now flows. The need for library advocacy coalitions - or any advocacy group - to maintain a unified message is critical. Whether in response to changes in the political climate, sudden emergencies requiring response to media outlets, or preventing imminent issues from becoming emergencies, CAL is prepared to respond to inquiries and to prevent the ‘spin’ from moving members or political opponents away from the intended message of the day (or year). CAL’s SIER committee is prepared and authorized to speak on CAL’s behalf, and its mandate is controlling the messages that leave the organization.

Contact:
Elena Rosenfeld, Co-Chair, Legislative Committee, Colorado Association of Libraries (CAL), and Associate Director of Public Services, High Plains Library District.
erosenfeld@highplains.us

See also: www.cal-webs.org

[Tags: Colorado Association of Libraries; Colorado; association; multi-type; district; funding; cuts; issue; CAL-A-THON; Capwiz; emergency; response; message; Strategic Initiatives and Emergency Response; SIER]

Connecticut Library Consortium    

Lead Organization: Connecticut Library Consortium (CLC)

Location: Connecticut (statewide)

Coalition Partners: Connecticut Library Association (CLA), State Libraries of Connecticut (SLC)

Issue/Goal:
Reduction or elimination of planned funding cuts from the State of Connecticut to the CLC’s budget.

Strategies:

  • Training of each town librarian to help spread news of the funding cuts.
  • Communicating with all 169 town libraries and 900 member libraries.
  • Demonstrating the efficiencies achieved through cooperative purchasing of library materials.
  • Building grassroots support in each of the legislative districts through voter communication.
  • Leveraged pricing reductions from vendors.
  • Coalition demonstrated that the CLC programs achieved both cost efficiencies and job creation.
  • Keeping the message simple and on point.

Outcomes:

  • Restoration of funding and reduced pricing from vendors.
  • Creation of jobs within the library system.

Lessons Learned:

  • Librarians, at the grassroots level, are one of the most effective ways to communicate with the voting public.
  • Demonstrating tangible, positive economic impact to legislative subcommittees improves the chance of avoiding budget cuts.

Synopsis:
The Connecticut Library Consortium (CLC), in an advocacy coalition formed with the Connecticut Library Association (CLA) and the State Libraries of Connecticut (SLC), managed to substantially reduce funding cuts planned by the Connecticut Legislature. By setting aside divergent interests of the separate organizations, agreeing on an agenda and on the message to take to the statehouse, utilizing CLA's lobbyist, training local librarians to take action at the township level (Connecticut has no counties), and getting the voting public involved, the entire coalition was able to sit down with the members of the legislative subcommittee that was about to cut CLC's funding to offer alternatives. By training local librarians to communicate effectively with the voting public, the coalition was able to have the voters voice their opposition to the planned funding cuts, thereby demonstrating to legislators that their constituencies cared about libraries. By leveraging library vendors (who have their own lobbyists), the coalition was able to cut costs, allowing legislators and the coalition to arrive at a compromise.

“The way that we advocate for this organization is to appeal to the constituents of the legislators of all 169 towns in Connecticut,” says Christine Bradley, Executive Director of the Connecticut Library Consortium. By contacting the librarians in every one of those towns, the Connecticut Library Consortium initiated a grassroots effort to save CLC’s funding. As a former elected official, Bradley knows that library organizations by themselves are less effective in changing a legislator’s vote (on a funding matter) than is a voter from the legislator’s home district. “You have to understand partisan politics, and I don’t care if people like it or they don’t like it – that’s the system.” By leveraging vendors, gathering letters and emails from legislators’ constituents, and by proving that it provides efficiencies and services that would otherwise be unavailable, the CLC built its coalition success from the roots up.

Contact:
Carl Antonucci, Past President and Board Member, Connecticut Library Consortium, Co-Chair, Legislative Committee, Connecticut Library Association
cantonucci@ccc.commnet.edu

Christine Bradley, Executive Director, Connecticut Library Consortium
cbradley@ctlibrarians.org

See also: www.ctlibrarians.org

[Tags: Connecticut Library Consortium; consortium; funding; cuts; librarian; purchasing; cooperative purchasing; efficiencies; grassroots; leverage; job creation; message; impact; vendor]

GALILEO in Georgia (GeorgiA LIbrary LEarning Online)    

Lead Organization: University System of Georgia

Location: State of Georgia

Coalition Partners: University of Georgia Board of Regents; Georgia’s General Assembly and Governor; K-12 schools; public libraries; adult technical institutes and colleges; a group of private academic colleges and universities.

Issue/Goal:
To provide equal access to information and improve the quality of library services for all Georgians by creating and funding a virtual library.

Strategies:

Look for and find commonalities rather than differences.
Trust you will be stronger together and work in coalition.
Look for economies of scale to leverage funding and look for cooperation down the street and across the state.
Seek out cooperative ventures, even with what may seem like unlikely partners.

Outcomes:
A web-based virtual library, GALILEO provides access to multiple information resources, including secured access to licensed products. Participating institutions may access over 100 databases indexing thousands of periodicals and scholarly journals. Over 2000 journal titles are provided in full-text. Other resources include encyclopedias, business directories, and government publications.

Lessons Learned:

  • When libraries are seen as being part of the solution — being willing partners for the success of government services — they have a better chance of being seen in a good light at funding time.
  • Public libraries, in particular, are seen to fit into the larger community as no other agency can reach that many people, whether it is the State Parks offering discount passes or the Health Department distributing public health information.
  • When libraries cooperate, the Governor thinks better of libraries, as do city councils, mayors and city managers.
  • We need to use the interconnectivity mantra to leverage continuity of library service.
  • The term “library ecosystem” makes sense — use it to promote advocacy.
  • All parts of the system need to be healthy or it hurts all parts of the community.
  • Good librarians get acculturated to the advantages of sharing and cooperation.

Synopsis:
Georgia is very proud of GALILEO, a statewide collaborative with over 2,000 participating libraries of all types that has grown over the past 15 years. The progress and the success of GALILEO resonate with everyone because it is a premiere example of what can happen when libraries work together.

GALILEO was the brainchild of an academic librarian, Charles Beard. Beard had the foresight to understand the importance and potential of technology and not just in terms of academic libraries, but that of an online consortium that also included public libraries, schools, and community colleges, private libraries… all types. From the beginning, GALILEO was a multi-type collaboration with a common focus to lobby for state funds that would benefit all library users.

Certainly there were troubles along the way. The public librarians experienced a certain degree of angst initially since the idea originated in the academic realm but the University of Georgia had the support of the Regents and possessed the technology infrastructure to initiate such a massive statewide venture. There were initial problems getting the funds but Charlie Beard knew he needed the schools involved in the project because school children and public library partners were an easier sell to the General Assembly and the Governor. Eventually a percentage of the state’s lottery revenues were designated to help fund the project.

GALILEO gives everyone — leaders, librarians and users — value in a common currency. For example, during recent visits with members of Congress and their legislative aides as part of National Library Legislative Day, we could point to GALILEO as a successful example of the use of Federal funds. Nearly everyone in Georgia knows what GALILEO is, has used it and wants it to continue to be successful.

Funding for GALILEO comes from a variety of sources, E-12, public libraries and academic libraries. People no longer look at GALILEO through the lens of just their type of library or just their funding stream. As librarians and users lobby for ongoing and increased funding, they tailor their message to the various funding agencies.

Contact:
Dr. Lamar Veatch, State Librarian, Georgia Public Library Service
lveatch@georgalibraries.org
www.georgialibraries.org

See also:
http://galileo.usg.edu
http://usg.edu/galileo/about/planning/projects
http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu
http://georgiaencyclopedia.org

[Tags: Georgia; GALILEO; system; university; access; technical; K-12; private; academic; funding; virtual; web-based; resources; licensed; periodicals; journals; databases; ecosystem; collaborations; technology; multi-type; National Library Legislative Day]

DuPage Library System    

Coordination Organization: DuPage Library System

Location: DuPage Library System is located outside Chicago, Illinois

Coalition Partners: DuPage Library System, other Illinois library systems, Illinois Library System Directors Organization (ILSDO), Illinois School Library Media Association (ISLMA), Consortium of Academic & Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI), Illinois State Library, and the Illinois Library Association (ILA)

Issues/Goals:
Ongoing support of libraries through coordination of state and national legislative days.

Strategies:

  • Strong planning team made up of representatives from various library types within the system and participation in statewide legislative activities and committees.
  • Packets of information shared and distributed through coalition.
  • Highly successful statewide dinner held night before Illinois Library Day featuring ILA legislative consultant discussing pertinent legislation advocates need to talk about with their legislators.
  • DuPage Library System purchased ALA’s READ poster software and invited libraries to host legislative visits. Hosting libraries and participating legislators received a framed poster. Legislators also received a CD with PDFs and JPGs of the poster and companion bookmark for their websites.
  • Posters are so popular that legislators from other parts of the state and system requested copies.
  • 21 Days of Advocacy – Posted daily on DuPage Library System blog for the 21 days leading up to Illinois Library Day, posts were written by library staff at all levels, working in all types of libraries across the state, featuring all types of advocacy. This effort was so effective that visits tripled toward the end of the 21-day blog blitz. (Link to the series of posts: http://dls.typepad.com/news/legislation_advocacy/ )

Outcomes:

  • All State bills the coalition supported have been signed or are awaiting the Governor’s signature. On the national level, Illinois legislators understand libraries’ concerns about Section 125 of the USA Patriot Act and the use of National Security Letters.
  • Legislators are gaining knowledge and respect for how libraries work strongly in coalition and are contacting the group about legislation that affects libraries.

Lessons Learned:

  • Identify and collaborate with organizations that want some of the same legislation passed or held.
  • Blogging is an effective way to share information and communicate key messages.

Synopsis:
We have, up until this year, had filtering bills that we have consistently fought. The last time a new legislator filed filtering legislation, he quickly found out from his colleagues in the General Assembly and from his constituents why the legislation was bad. On another occasion, the legislator used a blog to discuss the issue. We participated on the blog and pointed out that he wouldn't have been able to have that discussion using that format if his legislation passed. He held the legislation in committee.

Contact:
Denise Zielinski
Director of Informational Services
DuPage Library System
127 S. First Street
Geneva, Illinois 60134-2771
630/232-8457 x214
fax 630/232-0699
dzielins@dupagels.lib.il.us
http://www.dupagels.lib.il.us/

[Tags: DuPage Library System; Illinois; library system; legislative day; READ; legislators; poster; CDs; PDF; 21 Days of Advocacy; blog; bill; Section 125; USA Patriot Act; filtering; National Security Letters]

Indiana Public Library Coalition    

Lead Organization: Administrators of Large Public Libraries in Indiana (ADOLPLI); Small and Medium Size Libraries Division of the Indiana Library Federation (SAMS); Indiana State Librarians (ISL)

Location: State of Indiana

Coalition Partners: ADOLPLI; SAMS; ISL; consultants

Issue/Goal:
To present alternative models to the state government’s Kernan-Shepard Commission Report recommendation to consolidate 239 library districts into 92 countywide systems and provide library service to every Indiana resident including 400,000 unserved residents.

Strategies:

  • Creation of alternative recommendations based on information gathered at town hall meetings with interested groups
  • Spoke with pro-library legislator Senator Beverly Gard
  • Spoke with the Indiana Library Federation lobbyist
  • Participated in authoring a bill (SB 348)

Outcomes:
While the bill the coalition proposed (SB 348) did not pass, the coalition continues to work on presenting alternatives and has morphed into a group called Indiana Library Champions

Synopsis:
At a meeting of ADOLPLI in May 2008, a representative from the Indiana State Library brought up the issue of writing a grant to hire consultants to work with librarians to address the unserved areas of Indiana. Additionally, ADOLPLI wanted libraries to seek alternatives to the Kernan-Shepard Commission Report (proposed by Governor Mitch Daniels), which recommended the consolidation of 239 library districts into 92 countywide systems. The Kernan-Shepard suggestions would have severely impacted many unserved libraries in numerous counties.

ADOLPLI soon joined with SAMS to research alternative models for restructuring public libraries in Indiana. Seven SAMS volunteers and seven ADOLPLI volunteers created a coalition along with four representatives from the Indiana State Library. By late August of 2008, they hired consultants to help them meet with various interested groups such as the Indiana Library Federation, community and business groups, public library directors and trustees. Opinions and information were gathered to write a proposed bill offering an alternative to library consolidation.

With the endorsement of members of MySmartGov ( www.mysmartgov.org), another Indiana group seeking government reform, the coalition proposed a bill that would allow each county to do its own formal planning process and decide on one of five different recommended models for library operations in that county. The guiding philosophy was to allow each county to decide on a library service model that could best suit the needs of that county. The bill, SB 348, initially passed in the Indiana Senate, but was knocked down in a hearing in late March of 2009 when it was mixed in with other items.
The coalition has repositioned itself and formed the Indiana Library Champions in an effort to pursue these goals in a proactive manner and find a solution that will meet the needs of Indiana libraries and all citizens of the state.

Contact:
Jos Holman, Tippecanoe County Public Library Director
jholman@tcpl.lib.in.us

See also:
http://www.indianalibrarychampions.org
http://www.statelib.lib.in.us

[Tags: Indiana Public Library Coalition; countywide; public libraries; medium; small; ADOLPI; SAMS; ISL; Keenan-Shephard; commission; library districts; town hall meetings; lobbyist; consultants; bill; champions; MySmartGov]

Maryland Libraries    

Lead Organization: Maryland Library Association Legislative Panel (MLA)

Location: Maryland

Coalition Partners: Maryland Library Association, MLA members, Department of Natural Resources Library (DNRL), Law Library Association of Maryland (LLAM), members of MLA.

Issues:

  • Maryland’s closing of the Department of Natural Resources Library (2004)
  • Potential loss of state funding for county law libraries (2008)

Strategies:

  • Working through an established legislative group (the Maryland Legislative Panel, a committee of the Maryland Library Association) who know the legislative system and are recognized as a force.
  • Calling on librarians from other types of libraries to lend their support on targeted issues.

Outcomes:

  • Funding for the DNR Library reinstated.
  • Bill killed that would have redirected funding of county law libraries.

Lessons Learned:

  • Working through the MLA Legislative Panel was extremely effective as it provided a much larger pool of advocates from all types of libraries.
  • The Legislative Panel is an established group ready to tackle issues, an advantage over having to mobilize advocates when a crisis arises.
  • The Legislative Panel knows the legislative system and who to talk to. They are recognized by legislators as a powerful force.

Synopsis:

DNR LIBRARY: In the instance of the Department of Natural Resources Library, country law librarians joined forces with other types of librarians to support continued funding of the DNR Library.

COUNTY LAW LIBRARIES: A major portion of funding for country law libraries comes from criminal fines and court fees. A bill was introduced that would direct criminal fines collected as a result of controlled substance convictions to treatment services. While certainly logical and well intentioned, the county law libraries would have lost a major portion of their annual operating budget.

As part of advocacy efforts during MD Library Legislative Day, the MLA President testified on behalf of the county law libraries. She stressed the need to have the fees collected as a result of substance abuse criminal fees continue to support the county law libraries. The Chair of the Committee, who was also the bill’s author, declared after the testimony, “Madam, I’m afraid you have killed my bill.” The support from the MLA Legislative Panel and MLA membership by all types of libraries was especially appreciated, as the county law librarians (being employees of the judicial system) could not testify on their own behalf.

Contact:
Joan M. Bellistri
Anne Arundel County Public Law Library
Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, Rm. 303 P.O. 2395
7 Church Circle
Annapolis, MD 21404-2395
mailto:library@circuitcourt.org
410-222-1387
FAX: 410-268-9762
http://www.circuitcourt.org/content/view/22/40/

[Tags: Maryland; libraries; Department of Natural Resources; DNR; association; county law; judicial; legislative process; funding; reinstated; fees]

Massachusetts Libraries    

Location: Massachusetts

Coalition Partners: Massachusetts School Library Association (MSLA), Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, public higher education libraries, nine automated library networks and six regional library systems.

Lead Organization: Massachusetts Library Association (MLA) Legislative Committee.

Issue/Goal:
Increase funding for Massachusetts libraries through state appropriations administered by the Board of Library Commissioners.

Strategies:

  • Joint MLA-MSLA Library Legislative Day at the Massachusetts State House.
  • Identifying library patrons who were willing to speak up and participate in the event through “Telling Our Stories.”
  • Using email and Capwiz.
  • Developing Legislative Agenda with the Board of Library Commissioners annually, in consultation with MLA.
  • Grassroots lobbying prompted by the MLA Legislative Committee.
  • Hiring a lobbyist by MLA; establishing a Legislative Library Caucus.

Outcomes:

  • Two successful years of a joint Library Legislative Day.
  • Budget increases directly attributable to grassroots lobbying and support from professional lobbyist, and budget decreases minimized by the same.

Lessons Learned:
It is empowering to work together on advocacy issues and multi-type library advocacy is important. “Put your best effort out there,” said Jackie Rafferty, co-chair of the MLA Legislative Committee.

Synopsis:
One example of the coalition at work occurred when representatives from the Massachusetts Library Association and the Massachusetts School Library Association banded together to hold a joint Library Legislative Day, creating a very effective collaboration. By joining forces, these two organizations were able to rally a large number of people to participate in the event, which has now taken place two years in a row. A full day of programming included briefings, an awards ceremony, and a “Telling Our Stories” session in the Great Hall of the Massachusetts State House. During the “Telling Our Stories” portion of the event, concerned citizens discussed why libraries are so important to them and how they have changed their lives. Many of these stories deeply moved members of the audience and the legislators in attendance. After these events, small groups of library directors and school librarians went to visit legislators to advocate for libraries and their needs. Because they approached the legislators together, they were able to get more time with them to voice their concerns.

Contact:
Jackie Rafferty, Paul Pratt Memorial Library
jrafferty@ocln.org

Rob Maier, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
robert.maier@state.ma.us

See also: http://www.masslib.org/

[Tags: Massachusetts; automated; libraries; higher education; commissioners; library systems; funding; library legislative day; Capwiz; email; grassroots; lobbyist; caucus; multi-type; Telling Our Stories]

Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment – Revenue Allocation to Libraries for Cultural Programming    

Lead Organization: The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library

Location: The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library has historically focused its energy on Saint Paul issues and has had an effective local advocacy committee since 1991. However, recent economic changes and the passage of an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution have caused a shift toward a broader focus. In 2009, The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library formed an ad hoc State and Federal Advocacy Committee.

Coalition Partners: Office of the Mayor of Saint Paul; State Representative Mary Murphy (DFL – District 6B).

Issue/Goal:
In November 2008, Minnesota voters approved a constitutional amendment which increased the state’s sales tax by 3/8 of 1% for twenty-five years. The revenue generated by what is commonly known as the “Legacy Tax” is entirely dedicated to funding Minnesota’s clean environment initiatives and the arts. Projected revenue generated by the sales tax during the first year is $230 million. The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library identified an opportunity to increase funding for all of Minnesota’s libraries for cultural and arts programming.

Strategies:

  1. Utilize existing relationships.
  2. Find a library-friendly legislator (preferably in the majority party).
  3. Stay on message:
    *Libraries are the only community venue where free cultural programming occurs regularly.
    *Libraries have a history of presenting successful cultural programming.
    *A formula already exists to distribute state library funds. That formula is to be used for distributing these new sales tax funds so that administrative costs are reduced.

Outcomes:
The first-ever allocation of Legacy Tax revenue for library cultural programming exceeded all of the library advocates’ expectations ($4.25 million in years one and two for Minnesota libraries). The entire lobbying and allocation process took place in little more than one month. Funding for cultural programming will reach every library in the state.

Lessons Learned:

  • Relationships are more important than anything else in lobbying.
  • It is not always necessary to work through the mainstream process.
  • Timing is everything.
  • Library funding represents one of the most bipartisan issues out there.

Synopsis:
“Libraries provide all the information in the world to everybody in the world, and are appealing to people of all political persuasions,” says Peter Pearson, President of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. With a list of awards and successes too long to list, The Saint Paul Friends organization must be on to something. By identifying and effectively capturing a major revenue source for the cultural programming efforts of Minnesota’s Libraries, Pearson and The Friends have secured major funding for the entire Minnesota Library ecosystem.

Contact:
Peter D. Pearson, President
The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library
friends@thefriends.org
http://www.thefriends.org

[Tags: Minnesota; Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment; Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library; legacy; clean water; land; ad hoc. Mayor; constitutional amendment; cultural programming; arts; formula; allocation; bipartisan; sales tax; distribution]

Legislative Platform Alignment (School and Public Library Systems) - Minnesota    

Lead Organizations: Minnesota Library Association (MLA) and the Minnesota Educational Media Organization (MEMO) 

Location: The joint legislative platform serves the entire state of Minnesota’s public and school libraries.

Coalition Partners: The 12 regional public library systems in Minnesota; Minnesota Digital Library and Minitex (the resource sharing network in Minnesota); Minnesota Educational Media Organization; Council of Regional Public Library System Administrators; Multi-type Library Regional Library Directors.

Issue/Goal:
Library systems (school and public) in Minnesota were paying for separate lobbyists and presenting multiple platforms to legislators. The two large organizations, MLA and MEMO, identified an opportunity to reduce cost, improve message control and avoid duplication of effort. While funding of public libraries and school libraries is generated through different revenue streams, the items needed and purchased are frequently similar or identical (e.g., telecommunications systems).

Strategies:

  • Build strong, positive relationships with legislators from both parties to insure bipartisan support
  • Speak with one voice, “To legislators a librarian is a librarian is a librarian.” Even in the face of multiple funding streams, legislators need to see that funding is funding is funding.”
  • The overriding theme is that libraries strengthen Minnesota – location, type, or service is not the point.

Outcomes:
MLA and MEMO present and support a joint legislative platform to Minnesota lawmakers every year. The two organizations have been able to substantially reduce advocacy spending and Minnesota legislators know that if they need to speak with someone about libraries, there is a single point of contact.

Lessons Learned:

  • The number one priority is to be committed to the fundamental premise that “Libraries strengthen Minnesota.”
  • We all know that we benefit from each other (school and public library systems) our goal is to keep everybody strong and connected.
  • Build partnerships with other strong organizations early in the effort.
  • Play to the visible strengths of the organizations, such as the number of materials and programs offered in libraries across the state.
  • Create and use a consistent and simple set of talking points.
  • When the two main groups have disagreements about legislative priorities they rely heavily on the lobbyist to reconcile the wish list with the current political climate.
  • Use the media effectively.

Synopsis:
“We support the library advocacy platform with one voice, every year,” says Mark Ranum, Legislative Chair for the Minnesota Library Association. In 1997, two key organizations in Minnesota, the Minnesota Library Association and the Minnesota Educational Media Organization, held their first joint conference. “MEMO and MLA had always worked together on some issues, but both organizations funded their own lobbyists and presented separate platforms.”

During the first joint conference in 1997 the two organizations came to the conclusion that a number of efficiencies could be realized by joining their advocacy efforts and their dollars. What used to be the Minnesota Library Association Forum has been renamed. The Minnesota Legislative Library Forum better reflects the presence of the two organizations. Today, both the MEMO and MLA Legislative Committees work together to prioritize their agendas and get advice from a single lobbyist about which items are most likely to succeed in the political climate of that year.

Contact:
Mark Ranum, Legislative Chair, Minnesota Library Association, and Director, Plum Creek Library System, serving Southwest Minnesota
mranum@plumcreeklibrary.net

See also:
www.mnlibraryassociation.org
www.memoweb.org

[Tags: Minnesota Legislative Platform Alignment; Minnesota Library Association; MEMO; Minitex; Minnesota Legislative Library Forum; legislative platform; public libraries; school libraries; lobbyist; funding; revenue streams; bipartisan; talking points; advocacy; strong; connected]

New Jersey    

Location: New Jersey

Coalition Partners: Libraries Transform Lives Task Force: New Jersey Library Network, a multi-type coalition of nearly 2,000 libraries throughout New Jersey, the New Jersey Library Association and the New Jersey State Library

Lead Organization: New Jersey State Library

Issue/Goal:
Promoting the value of New Jersey libraries and advocating for continued support for the New Jersey State Library and libraries in general.

Strategies:

  • Regular meetings of the Libraries Transform Lives Task Force to advocate for libraries.
  • Launching “Snapshot Day: One Day in the Life of New Jersey Libraries.”
  • Launching “Get Help,” highlighting library services available in tough economic times.
  • Encouraging people to become library champions and to use Capwiz ( http://www.capitoladvantage.com)

Outcomes:

  • State Library budget not cut to same extent as other state departments.
  • Library value calculator.
  • Positive media interest.

Lessons Learned:

  • “Build the coalitions (if possible) in good times so that your partners are already in place during the bad times.”
  • “Be there for your partners when they need you, not just when you need them.”
  • “Offer your partners something they value (such as the databases offered to high-tech businesses with our NJ Knowledge Initiative program) so they can be effective and outspoken advocates for your services.”

Synopsis:
In January of 2009, New Jersey State Librarian Norma Blake called together representatives of libraries and library organizations throughout New Jersey to form the Libraries Transform Lives Task Force. The Task Force holds meetings to generate ideas for projects and activities in support of New Jersey libraries. Their work is needed more than ever during this difficult economic climate because library use is soaring in the state.

Two successful initiatives have been put in place: Snapshot Day and the Get Help program. Snapshot: One Day in the Life of New Jersey Libraries was held on February 19, 2009 and its aim was to demonstrate the impact that New Jersey libraries have on their communities on a typical day. All types of libraries across the state participated in the event. The result: 161,367 people visited New Jersey libraries that day, over four times the number of people who visit Disneyland every day! A website (see below) features the event, along with photographs, videos and statistics about that day’s use of library services. It also includes the many positive comments of library users. This single day served as a potent tool demonstrating the vital and dynamic role that libraries play in the lives of the state’s citizens.

The Get Help program is designed to highlight the services that New Jersey libraries can offer citizens during tough economic times. Work, financial, housing, health, and parental tools are available in addition to tools geared directly at senior citizens. These essential tools consist of links to valuable resources and sources of information. Through these two initiatives, the New Jersey State Library proves just how indispensable libraries are!

Contact:
Norma Blake, New Jersey State Librarian
nblake@njstatelib.org

Websites:
http://snapshot.njlibraries.org/index.html
http://gethelp.njlibraries.org

[Tags: New Jersey; coalition; state library; library association; transform; Libraries Transform Lives; task force; multi-type; value; Snapshot Day; Get Help; champions; Capwiz; cuts; databases; impact; statistics; citizens; services; tools; initiatives]

New York Capital District Library Council    

Lead Organization: No lead organization

Location: Capital District Library Council, Albany, New York (serving 10 counties in upstate New York).

Coalition Partners: Other New York Reference and Research Resources library systems (NY3Rs), other public and school library systems (through the New York Alliance of Library Systems), the New York Library Association.

Issue/Goal:
Joint advocacy with other NY3Rs, other public and school library systems (through New York Alliance of Library Systems) and the New York Library Association.

Strategies:

  • Education of legislators and legislative staff on the value of library systems.
  • Mini-lobby days.
  • Participation in New York Library Association rallies at the State Legislative Office Building.

Outcomes:

  • Despite the governor's proposed 22% reduction in the libraries budget, the coalition successfully advocated for final cuts of just 11% (phased-in reductions of 3% in 2009 and 8% in 2010) [amounts are based on FY 2008 budget].
  • Additional one-time funding allocations by the Legislature in FY 2008 (after 10 years of no funding increases).

Lesson Learned:
Focus on a single message as much as possible.

Synopsis:
The Capital District Library Council is a New York Reference and Research Resources (NY3Rs) library system with 68 members (including the three public library systems and four school library systems in the region). It is chartered by the state of New York and is a 501(c)(3). A total of about 500 individual libraries are among the membership which serves ten counties in upstate New York with a fiscal year 2009 budget of $900,000 and 7.2 FTE staff members.

The education of legislators and legislative staff on the value of library systems is their main priority in advocacy, along with maintaining funding levels for libraries. Success can be measured most obviously in funding levels and the positive statements made by legislators and legislative staff. Despite the fact that the governor’s initial budget included 22% cuts for 2010, this library coalition was able to lobby successfully for reducing that amount, even in these challenging economic times.

Contact:
Jean Sheviak, Executive Director, Capital District Library Council
jsheviak@cdlc.org
http://www.cdlc.org

[Tags: New York Capitol District Library Council; joint advocacy; reference; research; mini-lobby days; rallies; funding; message; NY3Rs; reduced cuts]

City of Buffalo and Erie County, NY, Joint Advocacy    

Lead Organization: Buffalo and Erie County Public Library (B&ECPL)

Location: (The City of) Buffalo and Erie County, New York

Coalition Partners: All 37 branch and contract libraries within the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library (B&ECPL) System; Western New York Library Resources Council (WNYLRC); Nioga Library System; Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System; a number of college libraries including Medaille College, Erie Community College and St. Bonaventure University.

Issue/Goal:
The B&ECPL System works to keep elected officials aware of the important services provided by the system to the communities served and focuses on the people. The WNYLRC coalition works to present a consistent message to legislators about the importance of continued library funding.

Strategies:

  • Use of printed materials, face to face meetings, telephone calls, letter writing campaigns and presentations to legislators.
  • Legislative lobby day in Albany at the state capitol in March.

Outcomes:
The B&ECPL coalition saw restored funding at the county level in the 2007 and 2008 budgets, but suffered a cutback in 2009 funding. The WNYLRC coalition has been successful at lessening the cutbacks at the state level for the last two years (funding was cut but at a level lower than was originally proposed).

Lessons Learned:

  • Advocacy must be a year round effort.
  • Your elected officials cannot hear from you only at budget time.

Synopsis:
The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library (B&ECPL) system includes 37 branch and contract libraries and the system coordinates advocacy with each of the libraries within Erie County and coordinates their efforts with the Western New York Library Resources Council (WNYLRC).

The Western New York Library Resources Council is a not-for-profit consortium of libraries and library systems serving Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, and Orleans counties. It includes all types of libraries in its organization. Both the B&ECPL system and the WNYLRC work year round on advocacy issues to ensure that their libraries are supported and can continue to offer a high level of service to their users.

Contact:
Paula Sandy, Assistant Deputy Director,
Public Relations and Development
Buffalo and Erie County Public Library
sandyp@buffalolib.org

See also:
www.buffalolib.org
www.wnylrc.org

[Tags: Buffalo; Erie County; New York; contract libraries; funding; college libraries; campaigns; legislative lobby day; cutbacks; presentations; letter writing; face to face]

Fund Our Future Washington    

Lead Organization: Fund Our Future Washington

Location: Spokane, WA (statewide school library initiative)

Coalition Partners: Washington Library Media Association (WLMA), Washington Library Association (WLA); Washington State PTA; American Library Association ALA; American Association of School Librarians (AASL); League of Education Voters; American Association of University Women (AAUW)

Issue/Goal:
The Coalition is working for a future where every public school or small district in Washington State is served by a full-time, certified teacher-librarian who manages a fully-funded library and technology resource collection, giving students from across the state the same access to technology, the same chance for literacy and the same opportunity to receive a world-class education.

Strategies:

  • Build a coalition of organizations that reflect a modern view of libraries and the indispensability of Teacher-Librarians
  • Include non-librarians in the grassroots efforts
  • Build grassroots support from citizens in every region of the state
  • Build awareness within every legislative district in the state
  • Drive voters to contact legislators
  • Provide data that shows statistically significant change to legislators
  • Gain access to the “closed door” meetings of legislators
  • Leverage ‘voices’ from different sectors to make the case (i.e. from businesses, higher education professionals, parents, retired persons, teachers, school administrators, elected city officials, and community leaders)
  • Keep the issue alive in the public domain by keeping the issue in the media

Outcomes:
The coalition secured $4 million in emergency bridge funding from the state during the first phase of advocacy and achieved inclusion of its plank in the state’s redefinition of basic education, whereby Teacher-Librarians and library materials will receive a state allocation under the 2009 revision of the Basic Education Act.

Lessons Learned:

  • Communicating and building awareness within communities is critical to advocacy coalition building.
  • Promote the inclusion of voters in any effort.
  • Do not expect legislators to respond as strongly to lobbying that comes only from the affected parties themselves.
  • Show up during the entire legislative session — it can actually work against an effort to only engage by participating in a scheduled legislative day.
  • Canned-letter writing is largely dismissed by legislators while a hand-written note or a personal meeting is appreciated.
  • Build relationships with decision-makers.
  • Be helpful and display genuine gratitude.
  • Above all — don’t complain.

Synopsis:
On May 19, 2009, Washington’s Governor, Christine Gregoire, signed a bill into law which, for the first time in thirty years, revised the definition and restructured the funding of basic education. While the legislation was not universally supported, it was remarkable.

For the first time in the Washington’s history, the definition of basic education includes a permanent line item for school library materials and an allocation of funds to pay for a certified Teacher-Librarian in every K-12 school. Three moms from Spokane (now a registered lobbying group known as Fund Our Future Washington) were responsible for forming a broad-based coalition that lobbied for the materials and Teacher-Librarian language in the bill and helped shepherd the legislation through the process of becoming law. That law now helps to insulate one area of the state’s library ecosystem from budget cuts.

Lisa Layera Brunkan (Co-Chair), Susan McBurney (Co-Chair) and Denette Hill (Treasurer) first thought about a statewide lobbying effort in November 2007, at a kitchen table in their hometown of Spokane, WA, after having lost their fight with the Board of Directors of Spokane Public Schools, District 81. The original advocacy effort the three moms undertook was local and affected the schools in their own district; they had spoken and gathered petition signatures to prevent the hours of a single elementary school Media Specialist from being cut to half-time. (The final budget cuts actually cut Media Specialist hours to half-time at ten schools in the Spokane Public School District.) In the words of the board chair, ‘… swim upstream to Olympia [Washington’s Capitol].’

In two short years, these Spokane women transformed themselves from a self-described “dorky”, local grassroots effort into a respected lobbying group with statewide impact, and they don’t seem to be slowing their pace. The advocacy coalition they built did not achieve its first goal. Their next goal — heading to Olympia to lobby against the cuts taking place all over their state — taught them certain important lessons.

“We sought out the leading education advocates in the state of Washington,” said Lisa Layera Brunkan, about the statewide effort. She said that library advocacy is not a difficult issue around which to build a coalition; there are not many legislators who want to be perceived as having taken books out of the hands of children. But during the first phase of the statewide effort — lobbying for emergency funding to prevent immediate school library closures —Layera Brunkan and her colleagues knew that they could not get the job done without the help of like-minded organizations, experts and voters. “We wanted the composition of the coalition to reflect the modern view which we took of the library program — it couldn’t just be library people talking about the importance of libraries.” They went about building a group with a unified message and a singular purpose: saving school libraries despite a $14 billion projected state budget deficit.

“Expect it to be messy; if the need to build a coalition exists, there must already be a problem,” said Layera Brunkan. They did their research and provided historical mappings of the already deep cuts to library programs made across the state, showed how many collections were woefully out of date and, most importantly, kept the message about the kids. “School library advocates must never forget that this is about the kids and about an institution. When we stray from that message we are vulnerable to defeat.”

Pulling supporters together from the private sector, academia, professional associations and voters takes hard work, but is an essential step. Once underway, Fund Our Future Washington learned that their issue was not a difficult sell. Legislators responded quickly to being deluged by regular citizens demanding action; the fact that those demanding action didn’t have a vested interest [non-librarians] was noteworthy to lawmakers. Having an insider at closed-door meetings is also of key importance, says Layera Brunkan. “At the end of the day, if you don’t have a way to actually implement policy language into law, all the grassroots work in the world won’t have paid off. Hiring the best lobbyist a state library association can afford is crucial, as is building relationships with respected education players who have a seat at the negotiating table.”

Asked about the difficulties of building the coalition’s unified platform from organizations as diverse as the PTA, Washington Library Association (WLA), The League of Education Voters, the Washington Library Media Association (WLMA) and a host of research advisors and like-minded Washington voters, Lisa Layera Brunkan says that, “the broader the goals, the more complicated having the planks lie side by side becomes.” The coalition’s biggest challenge was building awareness among the people of Washington. They needed to get word of the threat to school libraries delivered to communities. Using a virtual petition turned out to be the most effective way to do this and Teacher-Librarians themselves were vital to spreading the word. Teacher-Librarians from across the state reached out to their communities and helped gather petition signatures, while the Spokane women kept progress updates flowing back to small and large towns all over the state.

Lisa Layera Brunkan, asked about the opposition their group met said, “In two years — literally — there were only a small handful of people who said ‘No, I don’t support this.’ The issue of library preservation resonates with everyone.” Communicating and building awareness within a community and the voting public of an entire state is critical to advocacy coalitions; “the number one thing that we hear from our community members is ‘I had no idea’.”

Layera Brunkan went on to say that the most important message to other library advocacy coalition builders is that they should never try to go it alone; that a broad community voice is essential. “In the words of one Legislator, ‘please don’t bring the Librarians’ meant that one special-interest group lobbying for itself is not helpful in the legislative process. We have to create an environment where they [legislators] are winning elections by supporting libraries. When we come as voters — rather than as librarians — the legislator says ‘how can we help?’”

Contact:
(Lisa Layera Brunkan, Co-Chair, Fund Our Future Washington)
lisa@fundourfuturewashington.org
www.fundourfuturewashington.org

See also:
http://librariesfordemocracy.org/fundfuture/
http://www.wlma.org/libraryadvocacy

[Tags: Fund our Future; Washington; moms; Spokane; grassroots; school libraries; teacher-librarian; non-librarian; public schools; access; Basic Education Act; funds; K-12; PTA; virtual petition; leveraged voices; voters]


Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)    

Lead Organization: Association of Research Libraries

Location: SPARC has its offices in Washington, D.C., but its advocacy efforts on behalf of open access to scientific research results have both national and international scope.

Coalition Partners: SPARC membership numbers over 220 academic and research libraries in North America and Canada. Partner organizations, SPARC-Europe and SPARC-Japan represent approximately 600 institutions. The organization is also affiliated with major library organizations worldwide. SPARC convenes a larger advocacy coalition focused on open access to the results of publicly funded research, The Alliance for Taxpayer Access.

The SPARC membership list is broad with the major supporting institutions and members including: American Library Association; Association of American Law Libraries; Medical Library Association; Special Library Association; Association of Health Science Libraries; Public Library of Science; Association of College & Research Libraries; American Medical Student Association; Christopher Reeve Foundation; Autism Speaks; New England Biolabs; Public Knowledge; Greater Western Library Alliance.

Issue/Goal:
Launched in 1997 by the Association of Research Libraries, SPARC serves as a catalyst for change and works to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system. Its pragmatic focus is to stimulate the emergence of new scholarly communication models that expand the dissemination of scholarly and scientific research results.

One specific advocacy focus is to reduce barriers to research results that are commonly encountered by researchers and the general public, even when the research had been funded by taxpayer dollars. The cost of journal subscriptions or even single copies of peer-reviewed research articles is often prohibitive. Scientific researchers who need quick access to information about the latest breakthrough in their field and readers who want the latest information to stay educated about the illness of a loved one have encountered high-cost internet gateways.

SPARC has found a number of ways to apply pressure in strategic places to create open access for faculty, researchers, students and the public alike.

Strategies:

  • Grassroots efforts (concerned constituents and voters).
  • “Grass-top” (constituents in positions of power) communication campaigns. (SPARC’S Grass-top efforts included an open letter to the U.S. Congress, signed by 26 Nobel laureates).
  • Formation of multi-level coalitions to ensure the broadest reach possible.
  • Educational campaigns – in print, on the web, and through speaking engagements – designed to highlight key message points, such as Author Rights, Open Access and the Right to Research.
  • Targeted use of professional lobbying and communication firms.

Outcomes/Synopsis:
SPARC’s coalition of research and academic libraries, student organizations, taxpayer coalitions and hundreds of like-minded groups has been successful in its multi-year initiative to raise the profile of the need for public access to the results of publicly funded research. Specifically, the coalition secured broad support for a provision in the 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which codified the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy into law.

The NIH Public Access policy requires eligible researchers to deposit copies of final manuscripts, upon acceptance to a peer-reviewed journal, in the agency’s online database, PubMedCentral, so that they may be made freely available to the public within twelve months of publication. This policy applies to any journal articles resulting from research supported in whole or in part by direct funds from NIH. The manuscript is defined as the final version accepted for journal publication and includes all modifications from the publishing and peer-review process.

“The NIH has an annual budget in excess of $25 billion, and their research results in the publication of over 80,000 peer-reviewed articles per year. Until the revision of the NIH Public Access Policy, those articles were largely inaccessible to taxpayers,” said Ray English, who is the Chairman of the SPARC Steering Committee and the Director of Libraries at Oberlin College.

Additionally, the SPARC-led coalition supported the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006, which would require that all federal Agencies with external research budgets of over $100 million annually make articles that result from their funded research freely available to the public. The Act was co-sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), but did not advance during that session of Congress. Nonetheless, by inserting the spirit of the legislation into an appropriations bill, the supporters of open access research prevailed.

Ongoing efforts to revive the Federal Research Public Access Act are underway, and, if enacted, the open access policy would be applied to all executive branch agencies. SPARC’s advocacy efforts keep continuous pressure on lawmakers to allow free and immediate access to all publicly funded research. In a nod to the use of the term “Library Ecosystem” by Jim Rettig, President of the American Library Association, English stated that SPARC wants to broaden its base to include public librarians and concerned citizens in its efforts to make taxpayer-funded research available to everyone who paid for it. Mr. English concluded by saying, “Having access to the latest research is not just an issue for academic or research libraries, it affects all of us.”

Lessons Learned:

  • Any advocacy coalition has to be very agile, whether at local or federal levels.
  • Conditions can change very rapidly.
  • Your opponents (in SPARC’s case, segments of the publishing industry) will have sophisticated machines to get their message across to lawmakers, expect to have a message machine of your own - engage professional advisors.
  • Build alliances with those who are in power, whenever possible.
  • Develop grass roots support of constituents from the districts of all lawmakers involved in the decision.
  • Be prepared: those against your coalition’s objective will oppose, delay and confuse, during each step in the process.
  • Keep your fundamental message succinct and positive. Stay on message consistently.

Contact:
Ray English, Chairman, Steering Committee, Scholarly Publishing and Resources Coalition, and Director of Libraries, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH
ray.english@oberlin.edu

Heather Joseph, Executive Director, Scholarly Publishing and Resources Coalition
heather@arl.org

See also:
http://www.arl.org/sparc
http://www.taxpayeraccess.org

Websites:
http://www.arl.org/sparc
http://www.taxpayeraccess.org

Some information in this article was adapted from or directly sourced with permission from the owners of the above websites and was subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 2.5 License

[Tags: SPARC; Scholarly Publishing and Resources Coalition; publishing; access; funding; materials; research; international; lobbyist; taxpayer; grassroots; grassroots communications; Federal Research Public Access Act; open access; publicly funded research; multi-level coalition, alliance; succinct; consistent]

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