Fight for Your Future!
You’ve got to fight
For your right
You go Beastie Boys! Parker Posey was able to reconcile partying with libraries in Party Girl. So why can’t I reconcile fighting for my passion with my chosen profession?Mostly because I find advocacy intimidating.
But Jim Rettig, the current ALA President (who visited the iSchool March 11th, hosted by sALA) assured everyone in attendance, that it is our duty to fight on the behalf of library for the millions who use them.
It does not matter if you are students, faculty, or alumni; employed, retired, or between jobs – we should all be fighting for our futures, and for the futures of those we serve. Especially in tough financial times (like, NOW) when libraries are facing cutbacks or closures, it is imperative not to sit idly by and shrug it off as inevitable.
The decline of libraries is not inevitable. But you need to make the first step. Do you know who your local, state, and national representatives are? More importantly, do they know who YOU are?
Last year, when sALA hosted students to attend WLA’s Washington Legislative Day in Olympia, I learned that getting involved isn’t difficult. It just takes persistence. In many ways, advocating is just a different form of networking. You meet your representative, talk for 30 seconds, and then follow up with a letter thanking the representative for meeting with you. After some time, you gain some name recognition. “Oh, I remember Cadi. She was talking about school libraries last year. I wonder what’s on her mind this year…”
I admit it. I fell off the advocacy bandwagon. But the grim news of library closures, service reduction, and staff layoffs (and Jim’s impassioned talk) is incensing me to climb right back on.
The ALA website has some good advocacy tools and will help you find your representatives. The WLA has a list of current library-related legislation and advocacy resources. If you’re not in Washington, check out your state library association, I’m sure they have good information, too. And you don’t have to pay members dues to advocate. All it takes is a couple of minutes, a phone, an email… Just do it!
And if you’re interested in what is going on in D.C., the ALA has the blog for you: the District Dispatch.
According to Jim, another important part of advocating for libraries is outreach. Reaching out is not enough, we also need to reach in. By staying involved with the people you work with and for, and building relationships, you are able to influence them about the importance of libraries. Further, they will tell you what is important to them, allowing you to provide better service.
Outreach is not just a tool for managers: anyone can do it anywhere. You can perform it at circulation, on the desk, in the IT department. You can get people’s attention: that we listen and we respond. Libraries are here for our “users” – our stakeholders. While we can’t give them everything we want, we should at least try.
And we should fight for our right to exist.