At the beginning of 2022, the Los Gatos Library asked patrons to write letters to the library. The response was overwhelming. “I really enjoy visiting the library after school,” wrote one young patron. “The selection of books you have are brain bogglers.” “If this simply brightens your day, I win,” said another person, who signed their letter as a “happy patron.”
Los Gatos is on to something. They know that part of their job as library staff is to advocate for their library. Even though there are plenty of people who would call themselves fans of your library, cardholders don’t necessarily understand the breadth and depth of your services. They don’t realize how vital and necessary your library is to your community. They have not considered what would happen if your library didn’t offer free online career classes or homework help or early literacy programs, or after-school care. They have no idea of your vital role in bridging gaps in health care by providing free COVID tests and telehealth services. They don’t realize your library makes the internet accessible through free Wi-Fi, laptops, and hot spots.
An advocate is a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. For library staff, “other duties as assigned” certainly includes advocacy for your organization. That’s especially crucial now, when more libraries are facing the threat of book bans and book challenges and when librarians are risking jail time to provide their community with the books they need.
In the United States, National Library Week runs April 23-29 this year. And it’s a perfect time to build an advocacy campaign for your library. For subscribers of LibraryAware, telling those stories and sharing data in a way that is compelling and motivating is easy. We have a complete collection of templates dedicated to helping you advocate for your library. Just type advocacy into the LibraryAware search bar to get started. Or, if you know what you want to create, like an infographic, type infographic into the search bar. Then, refine your search by selecting Library Advocacy under Collections on the left side of the screen. You'll find templates that will help you tell the story of your library’s work.
You can also use this time to ask your community how you can better serve them. Forsyth County Public Library sent a survey using LibraryAware’s Drag and Drop editor. The answers will inform their strategic plan. And they’ll be able to highlight their responsiveness to the needs of the community as they promote their library in the future.
I encourage you to tell stories of your library’s service not only during National Library Week but all year long. Brainstorm and create advocacy content as part of your regular editorial calendar. Post about it on social media, share stories on your library blog, add quotes from patrons to your newsletters throughout the year, and talk about the value of your library when you meet with partners or speak at community events. Invite your local government officials to visit your library and see you in action. Ensure everyone understands your vital role in your community.
Angela Hursh is the Manager of Engagement and Marketing for NoveList. She just finished Vacationland by Meg Mitchell Moore and is now listening to Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink.