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What's My Job: A Guide To Being a Library Trustee: Advocating for the Library

Advocating for the Library

Advocating for the library is a major responsibility of all library staff and trustees.  Here are some best practices to help you fulfill this role:

  • Use advocacy and marketing tools such as the library's annual Report to the Community to help you promote the library
  • People should indentify you with the library
  • Know the services provided by the library
  • Have an "elevator speech" ready 
  • Be prepare to promote - and defend - the library

The E's of Libraries (ALA)

The services libraries provide help people fulfill basic needs and pursue a wide range of interests. ALA coined the 5 E's of Libraries to encompass this wide range of services. It's a great starting point as you develop your advocacy message. It will help you identify the true value that your library provides so that you can advocate on that value.

  • Education - Libraries provide educational support for all ages, 0-99. How do you provide educational support? Do you support life long learners and digital literacy? Do you provide programs such as story time and online resources such as databases?  Do you partner with schools?
  • Employment - Libraries welcome job seekers. Do you provide them a place and technology to look for jobs, create resumes, and learn valuable skills?
  • Entrepreneurship - Libraries support small businesses. Do you provide online resources for entrepreneurs, partner with local businesses, and provide other resources like printing, 3D printing, and more?
  • Empowerment - Libraries help individuals receive what they need. We provide materials, programs, a safe space, Internet and computer access, and more. How do you provide access?
  • Engagement - Libraries are a true community space. Libraries offer people opportunities to meet and socialize with others in their community. How do you provide engagement?

After you've identified what you do and what your audience values, use these points in your advocacy.

Library Advocacy Initiative

NCLS ran a series of Library Advocacy classes that we recorded so you can watch them any time. Below is the list of classes. If you'd like to know more and read descriptions of the classes, visit here.