Nowadays it seems everyone is advocating for something. Whenever its for charity or for social justice, people want to public support something else that needs their help. Libraries can also be sources for advocacy because they are non-profit and governments often cut their budget. The best way to get the community to advocate for the library is to use social media to draw attention to the library. Nobody will know if you don’t tell them and social media is the perfect way to highlight issues your library may be facing.
Advocacy simply means public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy. It doesn’t mean you have to organize an entire march dedicated to your library (although a march to support libraries does sound pretty cool). You can do little things like make a post on Facebook about how a politician wants to cut the library’s budget or start a Twitter post directing someone to sign a petition to stop cutting the library’s budget.
I came across an article called How Libraries are Using Social Media- https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2013/07/16/how-libraries-are-using-social-media/ and it explains how libraries can use social media to advocate to for their causes. For example the Central Rappahannock Regional Library made a music video entitled “Libraries will Survive” after they went through budget cuts and the music video ended up going viral on YouTube. This is an creative way to draw attention to a library’s problems and by doing it in a humorous way.
Addressing the problem in a funny way can also confront the stereotypes and biases that the public may think of the library. Advocacy is best done when the organization is honest with the public and is direct. Charlotte Mecklenburg (N.C.) Library for example used Facebook and Twitter to cover a 2 million dollar deficit to prevent their library from shutting down. Using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter really got the word out and spread all over social media.
In personal experience my own library that I work at has used Facebook to advocate for people to vote against bills that will cut our budget or encourage the community to write to politicians who want to cut the library’s budget. We get a lot of attention for those posts and discussions often start in the comments about how wrong it is to cut funding for the library and how much they need the library. Reading these comments can encourage others to join in and also see how much they have in common with other people.
So to wrap up, don’t be afraid to advocate for your library. It draws a lot more attention to your library and it also shows the community issues the library may be facing that they have no idea about. You can’t complain that nobody is helping with a problem if they don’t know its there so be active and keep advocating for the library’s right to exist. Believe me in this day and age we need libraries more than ever.