Public awareness plays a critical role in the Information Age

Contact: Mark Gould

Director, ALA Public Information Office

(312) 280-5042


For Immediate Release

July 22, 2008

Public awareness plays a critical role in the Information Age

CHICAGO - A video screened at the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference Opening General Session in Anaheim, Calif., demonstrates how public awareness efforts can make a difference in delivering key library messages to the public and decision makers.

Entitled “Breaking through the Clutter,” the video was produced by the ALA Public Information Office and the Campaign for America’s Libraries and underwritten by ALA Library Champions. The video is posted on the ALA Public Information Office blog, Visibility@ your library ( The video is also featured on
American Libraries Focus:

Among the highlights in the video: Jim Rettig, ALA President, discusses how partnerships amplify ALA messages. He says that partnerships generate a $13 to $1 return on investment, resulting in millions of dollars of exposure for library issues.

Jane Chesnutt, editor in chief of Woman’s Day magazine, and Jeff Idelson, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, discuss how their long-standing partnerships with ALA’s Campaign for America’s Libraries have had great value for their organizations. “It is a perfect match of interests,” says Chesnutt.

Judith Gibbons, 2008 PAC chair, talks about the “tremendous growth” of the @ your library campaign, which enables libraries to speak in one “energized” voice. She mentions the importance of such national promotions as National Library Week and Library Card Sign up Month. Celebrity spokespeople for those promotions, such as Julie Andrews, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, are noticed by library users, she says. Gibbons also says national initiatives are very valuable because they help support the efforts of individual libraries, which have limited resources for promotion.

2008 ALA President Loriene Roy discusses the growing demand for library services in the information age, talking about how media relations can generate interest in library issues. She also says posting the public service announcements featuring NLW Honorary Chair Julie Andrews on You Tube helped advance the goals of the association and librarianship and talks about her appearance on the Today Show on behalf of youth media award winners.

Roy also talks about three moms from Spokane, Wash., who successfully organized an effort to increase the state budget for school librarians. ALA supported the moms’ efforts through media relations and appearances at key meetings and rallies.

Leslie Burger, 2009 PAC chair and former ALA president, featured in the section Public Awareness Drives Change, talks about writing an op-ed for the New York Times opposing cuts to the EPA library budgets and how public awareness efforts by ALA and others helped restore those cuts.

Others featured in the video were Mario Gonzalez, ALA Executive Board member, who says there is a global information explosion going on, with libraries at its center, and Keith Michael Fiels, ALA executive director, who discusses how decision makers are influenced by public awareness tactics such as media relations.