Thursday, 3 September 2015

Thing 15: Advocacy for Libraries

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I'm going to begin today's post about Advocacy for Libraries with a question.

What comes to mind when you hear the words advocacy for Libraries? Do you think of protests, demonstrations with placards, petitions to politicians or spreading the word through publicity campaigns?

Advocacy is all that and more. The very act of completing this course, putting yourself out there on the open forum that is the world wide web and shouting about all that you love about libraries is an act of advocacy. Collaborating, networking and developing partnerships on Twitter or LinkedIn, or whatever has become your preferred network, strengthens our profession and allows us the opportunity to shout even louder for libraries.

Congratulations, you are an advocate! Once you've completed this course, I urge you to use the tools that you've learned about here to continue to advocate for libraries and our profession. You can do this simply by showcasing the amazing work that you do in your library on Instagram, show off the achievements of your learners on Twitter or highlight the diverse skills and high standard qualifications that a typical librarian possesses on LinkedIn.

If you are feeling adventurous you can go one step further and join one of the many advocacy campaigns that are out there or start your own.  There are a number of organisations that you can partner with or that provide support for advocacy campaigns.

Voices for the Library is a UK based organisation. Their aim is to provide real facts and figures about the contribution libraries make in today's society. They act as spokesperson for libraries to the media and politicians and are a voice for both libraries and also the public who benefit from library services.

The Library Campaign is a resource for all library advocacy campaigns in the UK. They provide information and news on all current library campaigns in the UK as well as resources for anyone who wants to start a library campaign.

Speak up for Libraries is another UK based organisation that hosts an annual conference as well as provides comprehensive resources for anyone wishing to start their own campaign.

Public Libraries 2020 is run by the Reading and Writing Foundation in the Netherlands. They provide grants for public libraries across Europe and are currently promoting their advocacy campaign Libraries Change Lives

Every Library is a US based charity that provides emergency funds and resources for advocacy campaigns at local level.

I Love Libraries is an initiative of the American Library Association and promotes libraries and the work that they do. 

The following are a few examples of advocacy campaigns that have been started in recent years which you can contribute to or use. 


CILIP also provided a wide range of advocacy resources and information on how you can get involved through their website. 

Library A to Z was funded by a kick starter campaign with The Library Campaign as the key sponsor. The project consists of a range of free downloadable, beautifully illustrated posters and promotional material highlighting the range of services and facilities available in libraries today.

I Freakin Love Libraries is the current project from advocate Bobbi Newman. She is responsible for other advocacy projects such as Library Day in the Life and This is What a Librarian Looks Like. 
All of these projects encourage Librarians from across the world to submit material to them and contribute to their success.

Of course there's also the annual national campaigns such as National Libraries Day and Library Ireland Week and National Library Week (US)  which we can all get involved in.

We can all be advocates on some level. If you're not interested, or don't have the time to take part in a national campaign, you can still contribute to furthering the cause for libraries in your every day work. 

We have all seen how powerful social media can be when it comes to bringing people together for a single purpose. I am going to mention a few unique social media campaigns used by libraries that may seem small but have a long lasting effect.

My Hunt Library is an instagram campaign run by the North Carolina Sate University Library (NCSU). Library visitors are encouraged to upload their favourite view of the library to Instagram using the hashtag #huntlibrary. The use of the hashtag means that the NCSU Library now have a huge archive of unique photographs of the Hunt Library. It's also an effective way of giving the library users ownership of their library.

Not Your Average Library is another Instagram campaign run by Cedar Rapids Public Library. Library users are encouraged to upload photos of the library using the hashtag #notyouraveragelibrary. It's a clever way to promote the services that the library provides, and again, it gives the library users ownership of the library but also reinforces the fact that this library is unique, that it's services go above and beyond what might be considered 'average'.

Advocacy can be as small as a tweet or as big as a national campaign to your government or policy makers.

Your Task for This Thing is:

  • Take a look at some of the advocacy campaigns mentioned in this blog post. 
  • Write  a blog post about your thoughts on advocacy for libraries. 
  • Have you ever been involved in an advocacy campaign?
  • What are your thoughts on how effective they are?

If you want to talk more about this topic we are having a twitter chat on Sunday the 6th of September from 8.30 to 9.30 GMT. The hashtag for the twitter chat will be #R23chat. See you then.

Take a look at our Pinterest page on Advocacy for more examples of advocacy tools and ideas. 

This blog post was written by Niamh O'Donovan, Librarian at Galway Public Libraries in Ireland. 


  1. When I did a MOOC on Library Advocacy through EDX we were thought that all this was part of a wider form of Advocacy and that Advocacy starts with your elevator speech and networking within your institution so that when the problems came you could advocate to the decision-makers the value of the service you provide.

    1. Hi Niamh, I just read your comment, no idea how I missed it. Sounds like an interesting MOOC. I completely agree, we need to start within our workplace. The smallest advocacy activity can have a ripple effect that reaches the policy makers and beyond.


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