For immediate release | September 19, 2017

Partnership supports renewed 'From Awareness to Funding' advocacy study

Updated research report will identify the most effective ways to advocate for public library funding

CHICAGO — The Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), the ALA Office for Library Advocacy and OCLC are pleased to announce a partnership to produce an update to OCLC’s 2008 report, “From Awareness to Funding: A Study of Library Support in America,” which explored voter attitudes and perceptions about library funding.

“I am one of thousands of library advocates that have used the ‘From Awareness to Funding’ study to better understand and target the voters we most need to support local funding initiatives,” said PLA President Pam Smith, who is one of four library advisors guiding the updated research effort. “PLA is thrilled to work with OCLC and the ALA Office for Library Advocacy to update this great resource to further inform how we can most effectively advocate for our nation’s public libraries.”

This landmark study was created to conduct research, develop strategies, create materials and evaluate the potential of marketing and communications programs aimed at increasing and sustaining funding for U.S. public libraries. It was one of the first to bring forward U.S. voter perceptions about library funding and library support that revolutionized library advocacy efforts, including:

  • Library support is only marginally related to library visitation;
  • Perceptions of librarians are an important predictor of library funding support; and
  • Voters who see the library as a 'transformational' force as opposed to an 'informational' source are more likely to increase taxes in its support.

“OCLC is excited to be collaborating with PLA and the ALA Office for Library Advocacy in this effort,” said Lorcan Dempsey, vice president of membership and research and OCLC Chief Strategist. “The research findings will provide a critical platform for those interested in understanding the position of public libraries today and in working to ensure a strong future.”

As in 2008, Leo Burnett is conducting the national household survey, which will be fielded in the next month. The new survey will add questions related to federal funding for libraries, as well as additional response options related to library programs and services that have emerged in recent years. The new report is scheduled for release in early 2018.

The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 9,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA offers professional development opportunities, unique public library initiatives, and a conference that welcomes public library staff into meaningful partnership. In collaboration with its parent organization, the American Library Association, PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders.

OCLC is a nonprofit global library cooperative providing shared technology services, original research and community programs so that libraries can better fuel learning, research and innovation. Through OCLC, member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the most comprehensive global network of data about library collections and services. Libraries gain efficiencies through OCLC’s WorldShare, a complete set of library management applications and services built on an open, cloud-based platform. It is through collaboration and sharing of the world’s collected knowledge that libraries can help people find answers they need to solve problems. Together as OCLC, member libraries, staff and partners make breakthroughs possible.

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Related Links

ALA Office for Library Advocacy

Public Library Association



Marci Merola


Office for Library Advocacy (OLA)