I’m wrapping up my Tools for Library Advocacy class this week. I’ll probably be writing down some of what I’ve learned trying to teach a CMS-evading online class–what worked and what doesn’t–but I had a small outline to share. The class was short, really short. Six weeks with two holidays (Memorial Day and King Kamehameha Day) and then grades are due over the July 4th weekend. Tough timing so I wanted to really compress things. I thought about advocacy and what are the essential parts of a good advocacy campaign, whether it’s putting out lawn signs or getting a new program at the library. I summarized it as stats + stories + good design + good tools. Added to this are, of course, good communication and partnerships which I wove in there as well as determining the appropriateness of a social media approach. The web address for my class won’t be up forever but this link should work for a while. You can see what we wrote and read and did on the syllabus.
Two specific items that I am pulling out for my own continued advocacy on digital divide topics are these (one from class, one not from class).
1. This comment on MetaFilter about what it’s like for a truly digitally divided user to try to apply for a job on a library computer. We know variants of this because we see it ever day, but I think it’s an exceptionally well-communicated single piece that should be shared and read widely.
2. This document from Bruce Clark, Queens University’s Digital Inclusion Project Manager about helping someone sign up for AT&T’s Access Plan, the low cost internet access that is available to people who need it, courtesy of the FCC. You’ll note that the process takes over a week and will help the user save $40 a month on her internet access, money she can spend on better food and more bus rides (her words).
Even though we know the numbers about digitally divided folks, and we see the promotions trying to get people signed up for service, it’s ultimately people like Bruce who make the last mile happen. Following up and following through so that people who have multiple challenges can get some assistance helping solve a problem.
Each of my students created an advocacy plan and we spent a week each working on stats and stories and design and tools. It was incredibly gratifying to see them putting work into things they cared about (some library-oriented, some less so) and effectively communicating a need for change. I hope I’m able to teach this class, or some variant of it, again.
Hiya. I’m preparing for a talk on Social Software that I’m giving in Utica, New York next Friday. I’ve been travelling significantly less and staying home writing much more. It’s been going well. I noticed last night on facebook [thanks Trevor] that I appear to be cartoonified and on the cover of this month’s Library Journal. Of course this is the post-Reed Business LJ, so I can’t find the cover on their new website and Trevor confirms there’s no actual mention of him or me in the actual article, but hey why pick nits? Interested folks can head over to his facebook profile and ID all the other luminaries on the cover including Emily Sheketoff, Nancy Pearl, Toni Morrison, Ginnie Cooper, Jill Nishi, Salman Rushdie, Mario Ascencio, Trevor Dawes, Camila Alire and Keith Michael Fiels floating away holding on to some balloons.
I am collecting a list of single-link “save the library” sites or other library value advocacy sites. If people want to add some in the comments, please do. The Save Libraries umbrella site is a good go-to place for general information on funding crises hitting libraries and ALA has a decent page with links to some Facebook examples.
So, I have some free time this week since I am supposed to be at PLA. My slides and my notes and links are online: Library 2.0 and Reader’s Advisory. I read about what the other speakers had to say, it sounds like it was a really lively pre-conference.
I came back to a facebook full of pleas for library assistance including the Save Libraries umbrella group for all the assorted campaigns. Apparently this is a very bad time to be a library. I’ve been meaning to do a wrap-up of some of the save the library campaigns. My apologies that it’s taken me so long to do this.
- Charlotte & Mecklenburg County libraries [in NC, original home to 23 Things] may have to close 12 branches depending on what happens with the budgets. I was alerted to this via the $2 million in one week facebook group. Clicking on “learn more” on their website takes me to a donation form with a little more information but I think this budget page is most useful and this news release explains what’s really happening.
- Los Angeles Public is in trouble again and their Save the Libraries website is back up and running with newly updated information and some good action items including sample letters you can send to the mayor. There is a meeting today. Facebook page has some more details.
- Florida is looking at wiping out state aid for libraries. Coming from a state that has no state-level funding for libraries, I know what a mess this is going to be. I’ve also been to two different Florida library systems in the past few months. They’ve got a good thing going on, it would be a shame to screw it up. Blog is here. Here’s the FLA’s statement and list of links.
- The New Jersey Library Association has posted a Critical Legislative Alert (pdf). There’s more information on their legislative page. Looks like budget cuts and furlough days for state library employees.
- There’s a mostly-empty Save Libraries website up at LISHost. ALA has an undated page which may or may not be relevant. The pages it links to seem to be from 2009.
- Ohio has a very attention-getting website at Save Ohio Libraries with links to some great tools by OPLIN including a find-a-library tool.
- In a little bit of good news, it looks like after the hubub of the past few years Providence Public Library is doing okay.
If people want to add more in the comments, please do. Times are tough all over, but libraries are needed more n tough times, not less.
Other ways to get the message out about reading, in case you’re looking for some. Discussion on MetaFilter over whether it’s parody or social statement. Plenty of cussing, so not really safe for most works.