Thing 16: Advocacy, speaking up for the profession and getting published

Almost four years ago the library I was working at realized that a more diversified funding source was needed to deal with the difficult economic climate they were now operating with. A team was formed which included library administrators, managers, librarians, and Friends members. The team researched options, and then decided for two years to follow the Benevon system of fundraising which worked with groups to tell their organization’s compelling story in strategic ways which would result in long-term relationships with individual donors contributing toward the cause.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have been a part of this initial team. It was probably the biggest challenge I had taken on up to that point. It required me to go way outside my comfort zone where public speaking and sharing personal feelings is concerned, but it also required me to work in a team dynamic in a very different way than I ever had before. I learned a lot about myself and my other teammates. The best part of the experience, however, was being constantly reminded why librarianship is so special and seeing what a huge contribution my library was to the quality of life in my hometown.

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As my Benevon tour of duty was wrapping up, that same library received a grant from the Indiana State Library to launch the Geek the Library campaign. This Bill and Melinda Gates funded program was launched to raise community awareness of the importance of public libraries. During the campaign I asked hundreds of people what they geeked. I had them to write what they geek on a sandwich board I would wear in public (football games, 5K runs, movies in the park), then take just a moment to connect whatever that something was to resources and support they could find at the library.

I don’t know what’s going to be next for me when it comes to library advocacy. It feels very odd, to be honest, after several intense years of activism to not be in the middle of some intense campaign or movement. I think taking some time to plan my next effort is probably a good move, however. In the meantime, I’ll continue to surprise people in general conversations by mentioning this or that which happens at the library or raise awareness of the impact the library makes in others’ lives. My favorite line is “really? I didn’t know you did that at the library?”


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