Federal Librarian Summer 2010

Greetings From the President

Library Advocacy in the Federal Government and Armed Forces

The theme running through the library community is advocacy.  For some, the issue is fighting for scarce tax dollars to protect public and school libraries. For others, they are fighting to make sure libraries remain open and accessible in academic and corporate settings. For libraries in the Federal government and our Armed Forces, library advocacy means recruiting champions in senior management that understand how libraries support the mission of the organization.

Everyone working in the library can advocate for the library without crossing the lines of professionalism. Touting our success is not bragging. Demonstrating value to your leadership is critical today in the fight for budget, support for innovation, and integration with other mission critical services. I hope you’ll all take a few minutes to look into advocacy resources and see how they can apply to your situation.

ALA’s Advocating in a Tough Economy Toolkit www.ala.org/tougheconomytoolkit.

Some of the best tips that apply to Federal and Armed Forces libraries include:

1. Define your message – Develop the “elevator speech” about how your library supports the mission of the organization and make sure everyone on staff knows that message and how their work supports that effort.

2. Tell the Stories – find anecdotes and stories that illustrate how the library has been instrumental in achieving the mission of the organization. The best people to tell those stories are our customers. Don’t be shy about asking them to write up their experience so you can share it with management.

3. Make statistics relevant –take your statistics and relate them to things our managers understand. Show them how much the organization would spend if there was no library; show them the value of a service compared to other functions or to commercial services.

4. Define the future you want to see – Read the professional literature and work with your staff to define the library you think your organization needs.

Even if it would require doubling your budget, if you don’t ask, it won’t happen. Think big and be ready to make it happen in small increments.

We all know how valuable library services are to our users. But do we know how to translate that value to the managers and administrators that set priorities for our organization? I encourage you to think about how-to put the story together for those people. The FAFLRT community is always available to share ideas and approaches that have worked in other organizations. The theme of library advocacy is a universal theme today but one we can all learn about together.

I have had a great year serving as the FAFLRT President and I want to thank everyone that made this year a success. The FAFLRT Board and the active membership has been wonderful to work with. Once again, I encourage you to get involved in the community. There are so many rewards to be realized, from networking, to friendship, to mentors, and lifelong friends!

Richard Huffine, 2009/2010 President

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