Eleven Library Advocacy Myths.... Debunked

1. It’s easier to go it alone than to work in coalition with others.
It may be easier (quicker) but it’s never as effective as having many diverse groups rallying around the same issue.

2. Lobbying is so complicated that only professional lobbyists should do it.
At the local level, where most library funding comes from, lobbying is a fairly simple task of contacting a small number of elected officials.

3. Grassroots, citizen-based lobbying efforts aren’t effective.
There are hundreds of stories of ordinary citizens changing or creating local legislation in support of libraries.

4. It’s illegal for nonprofit organizations like Library Friends groups to lobby.
The IRS has developed guidelines that show how nonprofits (501(c)(3) organizations) can lobby legally.

5. It takes a long time to do anything effectively.
Many groups have immediate success with lobbying efforts if done properly with plenty of lead-time.

6. Only librarians know enough to speak to legislators and elected officials.
Citizens can learn about library issues from librarians. Elected officials will better receive their voice than a librarian’s who might be perceived as self-serving.

7. Library volunteers only want to do book sales and shelve books.
Once a volunteer experiences the exhilaration of passing library legislation, they’ll never go back to book sales. Lobbying also takes less time and is more effective than book sales.

8. If you are a political appointee, there is no role for you in advocacy efforts.
Many political appointees are afraid to advocate for more library funding if an elected official who advocates for no new taxes has appointed them. These appointees can be effective behind the scenes in providing information and opening doors for advocates.

9. Library funding is important only to liberal Democrats.
Libraries are a bipartisan concern. In fact, there is data that indicates that federal funding for libraries is often better during Republican administrations.

10. Don’t ask for more than you can reasonably hope to get.
Negotiations for funding will always occur. Sometimes it makes sense to advocate for a higher amount knowing it will be negotiated down.

11. Once you are turned down, there’s no point in going back.
Every year is a new opportunity for lobbying. Going back each year makes elected officials more aware of your issue so if turned down one year, you may make inroads in succeeding years.

Coalition Building Homepage

Where is the U.S. are Coalitions at Work?