Think about the last time you visited an awesome restaurant, thrift shop, or library. Remember how you couldn’t wait to tell everyone you know about it? Maybe you posted on Facebook, sent a tweet, texted your friends, called a family member—or all of the above. Whatever you did, you were probably aiming for two things: (1) Getting people to understand why you loved this place so much and (2) getting them to visit so they could love it, too.
Everyday Advocates, we need you to do these exact same things in the fight to save the Institute of Museum and Library Services (#SaveIMLS). We need you to get the word out about the fundamental impact IMLS has on libraries across the country—including yours—and motivate colleagues, friends, family members, local business owners, local elected officials, principals, educators, parents, caregivers, and everyone you know to take action.
In her respective March 22nd and March 26th posts to the ALSC-L listserv, ALSC President Nina Lindsay encouraged each of us to tell five people to contact their U.S. legislators about the fight to #SaveIMLS and their need to sign on to two “Dear Appropriator” letters that preserve Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) funding.
Nina’s approach—tell five people, then five more—is both sound and effective because the impact is exponential. What would it look like if we all took five minutes right now to tell five people and asked them to go out and do the same? Let’s find out. The time to think about doing it is past us. We need to actually do it, and do it now. Today.
True to the grassroots, locally-driven heart of Everyday Advocacy, this issue of Everyday Advocacy Matters is filled with ideas for taking action right in your own library community to make a federal impact for libraries, librarians, and the children and families we serve. It’s tempting to think your voice won’t make a difference, but now’s the time to challenge that thinking. The fight to #SaveIMLS is everyone’s job, and we can’t do this without you.
Tell five people. Tell those five people to tell five people. Then tell five more. You’re a proud, strong Everyday Advocate, and we need you now more than ever!
Jenna Nemec-Loise, Member Content Editor
ALSC Everyday Advocacy Website & Electronic Newsletter
Let’s cut right to the chase: ALSC needs statements about the impact of IMLS funding on the children and families you serve. This is the most essential way to provide us with the information we need to advocate nationally for libraries and the work you do every day.
Everyday Advocates, this is how we #SaveIMLS.
With National Library Legislative Day quickly approaching the first week in May, we need your impact statements by Friday, April 7th.
All respondents to the Share an Impact Statement web form will be entered into a drawing to receive one of two prizes: A ticket to the 2017 Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet (if attending the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago) or a free ALSC online course registration (if not attending conference).
Need a little help getting started? Not sure what to say? Here are two sample impact statements from respondents who’ve already submitted the web form:
We have received [IMLS] grants to purchase computers for patron workstations and for circulation desk computers. Patrons and families use the computers to apply for jobs, create resumes, research medical information, take tests, do homework, and submit legal documents. Our computers are the only public computers in our small rural town. Without them many would not have access to the range of information available on the Internet.Our [IMLS] funding is used to ensure the public has access to up-to-date materials for their daily lives. This includes but is not limited to books, computers, technology, programs and much more. With the grants received we have been able to ensure the procurement of knowledge for future generations. Children benefit greatly from reading in so many ways: It improves confidence, vocabulary, social skills, problem solving, and much more. This saying sums it up perfectly: Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.
If you’re new to Everyday Advocacy or just want a refresher, you’re in luck! Each issue of Everyday Advocacy Matters helps you dig into the initiative’s five tenets—Be Informed, Engage with Your Community, Speak Out, Get Inspired, and Share Your Advocacy Story—by directing you back to the great content on the Everyday Advocacy website.
Just in time to #SaveIMLS by asking five people (then five more) to contact their U.S. Representatives, this issue helps you identify key stakeholders in your library community with this excerpt from the Engage with Your Community section:
Who directly benefits from the library programs and services you provide? Who’s in the background, supporting your efforts and cheering you on at every step? Which individuals or groups share your passion for improving outcomes for youth and families? Take the first steps toward advocacy by identifying these key stakeholders in your library community:
Primary stakeholders. When we hear the term “library stakeholders,” we may think first about the groups and individuals the library reaches directly with its resources, programs, and services. These primary stakeholders include the following individuals and groups:
- Children of all ages;
- Parents and their surrogates (non-parental caregivers, foster parents, etc.);
- Educational partners (schools, teachers, home schools, charter schools, public schools, private schools, parochial schools, preschools, daycare centers, afterschool programs, tutors); and
- Organizations serving youth (after-school programs, scouts, recreation programs).
Within these general categories, we also recognize our service to distinct communities with unique needs:
- Immigrant or cultural/religious populations;
- Children and families coping with disabilities (mental, physical or emotional);
- Foster children; and
- LGBT youth and parents.
Secondary stakeholders. Secondary stakeholders are individuals and groups in your community who may not reap the immediate benefits of library programs and services but who share your passion for supporting children and families. We often need to seek these partners out. By cultivating them, we can develop a broader base of support in the community.
Gaining credibility and becoming part of community networks takes time and effort, but becoming a go-to partner is easier than you think! Start small. Talk to people. Keep up on activities in your community. Look for opportunities to make connections. Be realistic about what you can offer and be willing to ask others to provide support in forwarding library goals. Congratulate people for their successes!
Consider these potential partners in your efforts to rally support for library programs and services benefiting youth and families:
People of influence. Politicians; policy makers and their staff; religious institutions; local service clubs and organizations including Friends of Library groups; and library commissioners and trustees. Seek them out at all stages of their political lives. Get to know them personally and attempt to influence their view of the library and its role in the community. Involve them.
Other local government agencies and departments serving children, youth, and families. Check your connections. Do you know administrators and staff in the department of parks and recreation? Do they know you? Public Health and Health Department? Department of Family Services? Housing Authority, Probation Department?
When we engage with these agencies, we advance our mutual causes. Are there commissions and interagency collaborations focusing on youth and family issues in the community? We shouldn’t wait to be invited to join. Participate and convey the library’s role in education to the members of these groups. (Be prepared for sitting in meetings and using all of your persuasive techniques over and over again.) Offer help with their local initiatives in support of children and families. Be enthusiastic and effective partners. Ask them to contribute to your projects as well, and celebrate joint successes!
Local business people. These community leaders can provide funds or in-kind contributions. They can share their expertise in library activities and programs, help publicize your programs and generally create goodwill.
Library support groups. The Junior Friends of the Library; teen advisory boards; parent booster clubs; preschool story hour parent booster clubs; reading groups; and youth volunteers. These groups are all stakeholders, and they can be advocates, too. Develop and cultivate them as allies and supporters, and they will be there in times of need.
Cultural and special interest organizations. Museums, arts organizations, science groups and other interest-based groups are also stakeholders and potential advocates. Engage them in efforts to educate and improve the quality of life for the children and families in your community. Sometimes they have resources or can apply for grants when you cannot.
Funders and philanthropic individuals and groups. Philanthropists can also be identified and nurtured. They have a stake in the well being of children and families in your community, and they should be educated about the important role of the library in developing healthy children and families.
Check out these recent ALSC blog posts for the latest from the child advocacy committees led by Priority Group Consultant Matt McLain:
Advocacy and Legislation Committee
Africa S. Hands, Co-Chairperson
Kendra Lu Jones, Co-Chairperson
Early Childhood Programs and Services
Brooke E. Newberry, Chairperson
Bruce Stewart Farrar, Co-Chairperson
Laura M. Jenkins, Co-Chairperson
Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers
Lesley Mason, Chairperson
Christy Estrovitz, Chairperson
School-Age Programs and Services
Robbin Ellis Friedman, Chairperson
Everyday Advocates, the ALA Office of Government Relations needs your help NOW! This excerpt from the Fight for Libraries page has all the details you need to contact your U.S. Representative before the April 3rd deadline:
“The President has proposed eliminating virtually all federal library funding and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the agency that distributes most of it to every state in the nation. Now budget-cutters in Congress are considering whether to follow his lead. This year, like never before, libraries and everyone who loves them must tell their members of Congress to support full federal funding for critical programs like the more than $210 million provided annually for Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Libraries (IAL) programs.
RIGHT NOW is the time! Visit the ALA Legislative Action Center for all you’ll need to contact your representative in the House to ask them to sign two important letters to the Appropriations Committee now making the rounds, one supporting LSTA (PDF) and the other IAL (PDF).
It’s simple. The more members of Congress who sign these “Dear Appropriator” letters, the less likely LSTA and IAL are to be eliminated or cut. But they won’t sign unless you, their constituent, demands it.
One click and five minutes can help save more than $210 million in federal library funding. Please, click now!”
Grab that phone and get ready to dial! E-mails and tweets are great starts, but talking to a staff member in your U.S. Representative’s office really makes an impact.
Find your elected officials, get their contact information, and make two critical asks: (1) publicly oppose wiping out IMLS and (2) commit to fighting for federal library funding. Follow the ALA Washington Office’s tips on How to Communicate with Your Elected Officials and/or use this sample script:
Hello, my name is ____________________. As a voter and as a member/supporter of both the American Library Association and Association for Library Service to Children, I’m calling to ask the Representative to oppose the elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which the White House budget is proposing to do. Libraries help our nation’s youngest children with early learning skills so they are ready to start school. They also enable students and adults to succeed in school and prepare for college careers and life. Without libraries, our nation will not have a trained workforce or productive citizens. Libraries depend on funding from IMLS in order to provide the services and resources students depend on for learning, especially students from low-income families. Please take action to ensure that IMLS is not eliminated and gets the funding it needs to help our nation’s youth. [IF YOU LIKE, SHARE A BRIEF EXAMPLE OF HOW YOUR LIBRARY HELPS CHILDREN AND FAMILIES]. Thank you for your time.
Not sure exactly what to say when encouraging others to contact their U.S. Representatives in the fight to #SaveIMLS? ALA has you covered! Use these talking points to communicate the background, messaging, and vital information about IMLS so your fellow Everyday Advocates can make their cases:
The President just proposed wiping out virtually all of the roughly $180 million in federal library funding by eliminating the agency that administers it: the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS);
This tiny amount of money measured against almost any other line in the federal budget (about half the budget for the Executive Office of the President alone, for example) is passed through to states which must match federal dollars and decide for themselves how best to use the money;
IMLS has a great and long-standing bipartisan reputation for efficiency and effectiveness; and
Grants are creatively used by the states for everything from critical summer reading programs for kids to building high-tech small business service centers to helping veterans apply for benefits and making 3D printers available that can print prototypes for entrepreneurs for pennies.
The President has just proposed eliminating the tiny amount of federal money ($183 million) provided to every state in the country for small, innovative, community-building grants – hundreds every year-- by eliminating the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS);
He also wants to zero out the infinitesimal amount ($27million) that the government provides annually to help school libraries buy books and other materials for school kids in the most poverty-stricken cities and rural communities in the nation;
I want [Representative/Senator] ______________ to publicly say – TODAY – that [s/he] opposes wiping out IMLS and will fight to save federal library funding in Congress;
Silence is not an option and I’m listening!
Every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. territories receive funding through IMLS to support their state’s libraries and museums. In FY14 the total funding IMLS distributed to states and territories was $154,800,000. In addition, IMLS offers competitive grant opportunities that individual libraries and museums can apply for. In FY14 they awarded 594 grants (from 1,299 applications) totaling more than $54,700,000. Visit the IMLS site to see how much funding your state receives from them.
From May 1-2, 2017, Everyday Advocates from around the country will gather in Washington, DC, to talk libraries and library-related issues with national legislators. The good news? There’s more than one way to get in on this high-impact, high-energy event that offers a unique opportunity to share your IMLS impact statements with lawmakers.
Join us in Washington, D.C. Registration for this year’s event is now open! Ask your supervisor, library administrator, or principal about attending National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) in person. Make your case to be there by stating how federal legislation needs your support through the stories you can tell about your school or public library and the community you serve. Online registration ends Saturday, April 8th, but registration is available at the door.
Take part virtually. Can’t make the trip to Washington, D.C.? You can still be a part of the action! Virtual Library Legislative Day takes place from May 1-5, 2017, and we’ll provide you with all the details you need to participate from your library or home. Watch for more resources coming your way in the next few weeks.
As you get started with spreading the word about the fight to #SaveIMLS, it’s a good idea to clarify your advocacy role within your organization. While we’re actively seeking your participation in this critical effort, be sure you’re doing so within the parameters of your school or public library’s policy on taking legislative action.
In the next day or two, spend 15 minutes with your supervisor discussing your advocacy role within the library. Not only is this a great opportunity to communicate the importance of the fight to #SaveIMLS, but you can also ensure your library’s messaging is consistent and in keeping with your library’s limitations or expectations.
Incorporate the following questions into your conversation:
- What’s the library’s policy on legislative outreach and advocacy?
- Do you need the approval of supervisors to contact elected officials, library board members, Friends of the Library, or the press?
- In what situations can you speak on the library’s behalf?
Find out more by visiting The Everyday Advocate—You! on the Everyday Advocacy website.
On Monday, March 27th, American Association of School Librarians President Audrey Church posted this challenge on the AASLForum discussion list:
“Please, if you have not done so yet, invite your Representative and/or one (or both!) of your Senators to visit your school library during their spring recess. Our federal legislators will be at home in their districts during the weeks of April 10 and April 17. Now, more than ever, our Congressmen/women need to understand the critical role that school libraries and school librarians play in student learning!”
You don’t have to be a school librarian to answer Audrey’s challenge! If you’re a public librarian, invite your legislators to your library for a storytime, family program, or other opportunity to engage with their constituents. It’s a great opportunity to share your IMLS impact statements how you make a difference every day in the lives of children and families.
Find your elected officials and make the call today!
As stated on the ALA Legislative Action Center, “District Dispatch is the official blog of the American Library Association’s Washington Office. If you want to know what’s going on in Washington from the library perspective, this is the one page you need to bookmark, RSS, or subscribe to for email updates.”
Subscribing to District Dispatch is the most effective away to stay informed about the fight to #SaveIMLS and get critical updates about how you can take action in your community to make a federal impact. Take a few minutes and subscribe now!
Looking for a quick, easy way to build your own momentum in the fight to #SaveIMLS? Download the official ALA #SaveIMLS campaign Twibbon and add it to your profile picture on social media!
From the #SaveIMLS Twibbon page, you can also link to the ALA Legislative Action Center and send #SaveIMLS messages via Twitter and Facebook. All you have to do is log in to your social media accounts, make any edits to the prefilled message, and click to post. Quick and easy, right?
Take a few minutes now to download the Twibbon and post your social media accounts. You’ll be sharing the #SaveIMLS message in no time!