Friends of the Library are nonprofit organizations whose members have banded together with the common goal of helping a specific library. They often volunteer their time or resources on behalf of that library. Friends groups are very diverse, including Friends of state libraries, individual libraries, library systems, teen Friends, and even Friends foundations. Moneys raised from these efforts often go toward library programs, supplies and collections.
In , the Friends of Libraries U. FOLUSA was created to formalize the loose national network of Friends groups increasing their potential to promote libraries. The American Library Association ALA is one of the largest national associations which advocates for public libraries. ALA was founded in and since then has given libraries a more unified way to discuss, plan, and develop cooperative initiatives.
Each state has a state library agency which distributes federal library funds received from the IMLS. Generally these associations hold an annual conference, as well as ongoing workshops and programs.
A website was started in September providing views on the importance of libraries, and a list of libraries threatened with closure. Although the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions IFLA does not have a distinct advocacy group or committee within their organization, their Public Libraries Section is intended to provide "an active international forum for the development and promotion of public libraries which serve the whole community in the context of the information society and ensure free and equal access to information at the local level".
The Italian Library Association 's work group on advocacy strives to build on the work done by the IFLA in Italian libraries in the areas of public relations, librarian professional development, and demonstration of the benefit of libraries to the cultural and educational aspects of society.
The Library and Information Association of South Africa LIASA was founded in and is a"professional non-profit organisation, uniting and representing all institutions and people working in libraries and information services in South Africa. It strives to unite, develop and empower all people in the library and information field into an organisation [sic] that provides dynamic leadership in transforming, developing and sustaining library and information services for all people in South Africa". Advocacy for public libraries at the local level has been demonstrated to be an effective partial defense against library cuts and closings.
Local library governing bodies are at the mercy of state and local governments with regard to funding and thus are often required to make decisions based on factors other than what is best for the community where the library is located. As a result, advocacy at the local level often requires a three-pronged plan of attack requiring a lobbying effort at the state, local, and library governing body level. There are many online resources for those interested in learning who their representatives at the local and state levels are.
Public library advocacy may be a collective voice from public libraries and their supporters throughout an entire state and may be directed toward state government bodies or the state's general population. Allocation of taxpayer money to support vital community programs, including public libraries, in the United States is the responsibility of state and local governments rather than the federal government ; however, ever since the s when the power to allocate tax dollars for such services was handed down to state and local governments, competition for tax dollars has become fierce and has caused budget problems in a number of states.
State library associations play a major role in advocating the importance of public libraries and the services they offer. Such associations in the United States are affiliated with the American Library Association ALA and are thus considered ALA chapters representing all libraries within their respective geographic coverage.
Their websites provide contact information about and links to state legislators. Many of these websites also use Capwiz,   an online advocacy tool that provides a means to learn about and communicate with elected officials as well as awareness of relevant issues in government and of relevant news in the media. To ensure awareness of legislation that may affect libraries, a state library association may hire a lobbyist who will keep a close eye on legislation in the state capitol, influence legislators on behalf of libraries statewide, and keep the association updated on what is happening in state government.
The lobbyist, however, cannot be solely responsible for the lobbying effort; thus, state library associations often organize legislative committees headed by librarians from different parts of each state.
Statewide library events also serve to advocate public libraries. On February 11, , Bookmobile Day was held in Frankfort, Kentucky , in which 70 bookmobiles arrived at the state capitol to celebrate 50 years of bookmobile and outreach services throughout the state and to reinforce the importance of public library services to all Kentuckians. On Library Snapshot Day, another advocacy event, " This initiative provides an easy means to collect statistics, photos and stories that [enable] library advocates to prove the value of their libraries to decision-makers and increase public awareness.
The American Library Association gets involved with the national debate to ensure that all people have access to the information and services they need. ALA has used librarians to testify before Congress about civil liberties and national security, and they also advocate federal legislation that preserves and promotes fundamental library values by lobbying Congress, partnering and working with others "inside the Beltway" and beyond, and engaging in grassroots advocacy on behalf of the public.
The Library Business Association meets with elected officials to share with them some of the key issues of interest to the library business community, such as library funding legislation. The Public Library Association advocates for the public library and has a training program called Turning the Page for national advocacy that has been funded by the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation.
In June , South Carolina library advocates and their allies got Governor Mark Sanford 's vetoes 31 and 92 of state aid to libraries overturned in less than one week. Sanford said that libraries are also supported by lottery funds, and suggested that counties raise other money for the libraries".
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Librarians and advocates got on the phone and the computer, contacting their legislators using the state's version of CapWiz. In less than 24 hours, a significant and effective effort by public library directors, patrons, trustees, friends groups, citizens, etc. The issue was being discussed in the media print and TV within 5 days including a weekend. The spirit of collaboration and the sense of accomplishment are ours forever. The effectiveness of our efforts is clearly demonstrated in the numbers of votes received in support of overriding the vetoes".
The next day, June 17th, the Senate followed suit and overrode veto 31, Twelve days later the Senate overrode veto 92, The funding cuts would have meant the closure of numerous branch libraries, a reduction of library services hours, and staff layoffs. NYPL implemented a variety of advocacy efforts to fight the budget cuts. A key aspect of the campaign was a message that online users saw when entering the library's main Web site. The message read, "Keep your library open. We need your help! The library also utilized a variety of other online tools to support the campaign.
NYPL asked celebrities to create a YouTube video that encouraged people to participate in advocating for the library. Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites were also used to inform people of the campaign and ask them to contribute in any way possible. In addition to library users donating money and contacting local officials, the New York Public Library also received "spontaneous support" for their campaign.
Although the NYPL reduced its service hours to five days per week, all branches have been retained at this point. In April , a month before the county was to vote on the levy, a plea for library support was printed in the local paper:. We all will benefit from the investment.
Members of the Commissioners' Court saw this decrease as insufficient, voting to close the library in August Over people, representing all ages and backgrounds, attended including the three county commissioners. This meeting garnered much support for the library and helped in finding the new home for the library within the Fabens Independent School District.
As of October , the library has a new home at one of the schools in the Fabens Independent School District. The county agreed to provide transition funds for the move.
Fabens ISD funds the salary for the librarian. EPAL agreed to help, along with other fundraisers, to provide funds for materials, supplies, and other needs.
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At the beginning of , the Phoenix Public Libraries were faced with a difficult situation. The city council began proposing budget cuts for public safety organizations, including the Phoenix Fire Department and the Phoenix Police Department. This was the first time the city proposed cuts to these vital organizations. In an attempt to retain the jobs held at the police and fire departments, police union representative, Mark Spencer, suggested in an interview to create more cuts to the libraries stating that police officers should not lose their jobs until every librarian position has been cut.
The community wrote in to The Arizona Republic arguing that libraries are in part responsible for creating safer and friendlier communities. The proposed cuts would ultimately close six of the 15 branches within the city and cut In addition, all branches would be closed on Fridays. The overall library budget would be cut This is including the 2.
The closing of this many branches for a city the size of Phoenix, AZ could severely hurt the quality of services provided. For a population of 1.
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One month later, the food tax was passed, and the branches were kept from closing. This is not an entirely happy ending, however, as the library system still faced budget cuts. As an answer to closing entire branches, In addition, each branch would cut one day of operation a week. The efforts of the community to save the library cannot be ignored. Many wrote to newspapers like the one mentioned above. There was also much support for and participation in organizations such as Friends of the Phoenix Public Library , who raised awareness of the budget cuts and the effects they would have on the community.
All of these efforts forced the city council to reevaluate the planned budget cuts. As with the Main, public bonds will not pay for equipment or furnishings inside the branches. It was not the first time the BPL budget had come under fire. The library was already suffering the effects of a budget eroded throughout the s, with buildings badly in need of repair and dispirited workers shifted from location to location as a stopgap for severe staffing shortages.
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Hughes fought to take the matter of library funding directly to the public. Citing a long-obscure tax law, he sued the city to allow a library-budget referendum be put directly to voters on the next ballot. Prior to the election, Hughes enlisted more than volunteers to rally support for the referendum through phone calls and neighbor education.
Steps were made for the Local Government Association to represent the libraries to the State Government, but this was insufficient. To cancel at any time, reply with "STOP", and 2 additional texts if in the future we launch a general text message program. Consent is not required to buy Cracker Barrel goods and services.
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