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Advocacy: Advocacy


Advocacy is an important part of working in a library; it involves talking to legislators, business owners, local leaders, and all community members about the many wonderful things that the library does. This means everything from book and movie circulation to programs, computer and WiFi access, and reference services. Libraries fill an important community gap and are the "last great equalizer" that welcomes everybody without question, and without advocacy, libraries around the nation and world could fall victim to loss of support.

Nobody knows better than library staff, board members, Friends and Foundation members, and library users the great things that the library does. So it's their responsibility to dispel the myths that libraries are old book repositories. Below are some common Dos and Don'ts when it comes to advocacy.

Advocacy Dos:

  • Find a message and focus on it. Keep it positive (What are you advocating for? Make sure all advocates have the same message)
  • Get advocates involved in the community
  • Find a connection with the people you are advocating to (What are they interested in?) and make stories personal
  • Be strategic with data, infographics, etc.
  • Use buzz words when talking with legislators to peak their interest.
  • Ask library supporters to take their message/ stories to funding bodies
  • Advocate year-round

Advocacy Don’ts:

  • Don’t burn bridges
  • Don’t tell people they’re wrong
  • Don’t forget why you’re advocating
  • Don’t take rejections personally
  • Don’t make it all about money

Talking to Legislators

Libraries need to show their value to local, state, and federal legislators as they make decisions that affect the library. Take the time to get to know them and educate them on how the library relates to their platforms. Here are some easy ways to connect to legislators:

  • Send a note when they are elected to office
  • Invite them to tour the library
  • Send them the library's annual report
  • Offer the library's resources


Contact information of local legislators can be found below:

Courses and Webinars

Advocacy is a skill that takes time to develop. It's important to think through the library's main message and the most effective way to communicate that to different people. Besides practice, you can also take the courses below to get you headed in the right direction:

The toolkits and brochures below can help expand your knowledge and help you become the best advocate for your library.

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Many of these resources and programs are funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.