Library Advocacy

Trustees play an integral role in advocacy for their library. The quality of a library’s services ultimately rests with the library’s Board of Trustees and, therefore, it is critically important that they do everything they can to ensure that the library has the resources it needs. Trustees can be powerful advocates for their library. If libraries are to thrive in the 21st century, Trustees must step up and let those who fund them know that communities and even our democracy depend on free and open access to the wide variety of materials and resources an excellent library with excellent funding offers.

Friends groups can make the difference between a budget increase and a budget cut for their libraries. As much money as Friends raise through book sales and other activities, a 1% increase in your library’s budget can add up to tens of thousands of dollars or more depending on the size of your library’s budget. Not only that, but many libraries across the country owe their new additions or new buildings to an effective advocacy campaign waged by the Friends to ensure community support. You can make a long lasting and significant difference for your library through advocacy.

FREE Webinar: Responding to a Budget Crisis

Learn how to develop a campaign for your library in a budget crisis from a group that fought for an additional $3.8 million for their library system. Find out how to work with the media, get publicity, find creative ways to campaign, and more. Watch the free recording (50 minutes).

Speakers include Kate Park, executive director of the Friends of the Dallas (Texas) Public Library; Patti Clapp, advocacy chair of the Friends, and Sally Reed, executive director of United for Libraries. 

Friends of the Dallas (Texas) Public Library was one of 20 recipients of the Neal-Schuman Citizens-Save-Libraries grants. The library had experienced budget cuts of 40%, leaving it the worst funded urban library system in the country. The Friends used their training to develop an advocacy plan that resulted in the library receiving an additional $3.8 million to hire 92 full-time employees, allowing the library to open 12 branches for 50 hours a week.

Power Guide for Successful Library Advocacy

United for Libraries, along with the Neal-Schuman Foundation, believe strongly that advocacy can and does work.  We’ve seen evidence of it from coast to coast in all types of libraries at the local and the state levels. Developing an advocacy campaign, as you will soon see, is not rocket science but it does take dedication, hard work, a core group of people who are passionate about the cause and the support of many, many people in your community.  This guide will take the mystery out of advocacy, provide you with an organized step-by-step approach, and allow you to develop a set of strategies that will motivate your community to pressure funders to support the library or in the case of a referendum or a bond issue – to vote “yes.”

Advocacy Resources

ALA's Issues & Advocacy page

United for Libraries Resources

Virtual Library Legislative Day