For immediate release | June 12, 2024

Strengthening library ecosystems using One Voice


CHICAGO — A patron of one library is the potential patron of any other library at a different time of life or location. And though each library serves its own unique community, when different kinds of libraries speak together with one voice, the entire library ecosystem is stronger. Distilling the work of ALA's Ecosystem Task Force, the new book “Strengthening Library Ecosystems: Collaborate for Advocacy and Impact,” published by ALA Editions, will guide library organizations in assessing and extending the strength of their ecosystems by identifying priorities for advocacy and legislation. Written by Dorcas Hand, Sara Kelly Johns, Michelle Robertson, and Eryn Duffee, its flexible framework can apply to the library ecosystem at any level and can accommodate all types of libraries and library organizations, including Friends groups and trustees, vendors, and literacy groups. In this book, readers will:

  • learn what constitutes a library ecosystem and how diverse libraries can unite around common goals and values;
  • see the ways in which various library types (school, public, and academic) overlap in mission, share the same core values, and can better view each another as essential allies;
  • be introduced to the elements of ecosystem thinking, including components such as effective leadership, communication, collaboration, and sustainability for advocacy success;
  • come to understand how to apply ecosystem ideas to bolster legislative advocacy and combat censorship attempts;
  • grasp the contrasts between “going it alone,” which can devolve into fragmented messaging and unfocused action at cross-purposes with other libraries, and speaking together with One Voice, as illustrated through real-world examples and case studies; and
  • get an assortment of practical tip sheets, discussion questions, points to consider, and other helpful prompts and guideposts for setting out on their own ecosystem journey.

Hand, MLS, is a retired school librarian from Houston, Texas and a co-chair of Students Need Libraries in Houston ISD, a grassroots advocacy effort. She chaired the ALA Ecosystem Initiative Task Force to write the Ecosystem Toolkit and Continuum and remains a member of ALA’s COLA Ecosystem Subcommittee, presenting on ecosystem topics often. Johns, an online instructor at the Syracuse University iSchool and a long-time school librarian, is a past president of AASL, the New York Library Association (NYLA), and the Section of School Librarians of NYLA. She received the NYLA Lifetime Achievement Award and the first AASL Social Media Superstar Advocacy Ambassador Award. Active in ALA Council and ALA committees, Johns was a member of the Implementation Task Force for the National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries. She is co-author of "Elevating the School Library: Building Positive Perceptions through Brand Behavior" and has written articles for several school library publications and contributed chapters for various books. Robertson, MLIS, PhD, is currently the program coordinator and assistant professor for library media in education at the University of Central Oklahoma. She is a member of ALA’s Ecosystem Subcommittee as well as ALA’s Public Awareness Committee. She has worked for several years to build the library ecosystem in Oklahoma. Duffee, MLIS, is a teacher librarian near Seattle, Washington, who has led advocacy committees and who founded the Tennessee Library Ecosystem Coalition. Eryn’s work earned Tennessee the Gerald Hodges Intellectual Freedom Chapter Award. She was recognized with the Library Journal Movers & Shakers Award in 2023.

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