Advancing Advocacy: ALA's Newest Office Is the Next Big Step

Article excerpt

On September 4, ALA established the new Office for Library Advocacy (OLA). We all know that advocacy has been the number one member priority for more than a decade. But what will the new office do? How will it fit in with all the other advocacy efforts within the association?

First, the office will focus new energy on a huge, unmet need: developing resources, training, and peer-to-peer networks that will help local advocates achieve their advocacy goals for libraries of all types. These may include making the case for increased funding, new and expanded buildings, new technology, bond votes and referenda, or fighting budget reductions, elimination of school librarians, or library closures.

Second, collaboration will be key. Working with the Chapter Relations Office, OLA will support statewide advocacy efforts, and, in cooperation with the Washington Office, it will strengthen and develop grassroots advocacy at the national level. The office will work closely with other divisions, such as the Public Library Association (PLA), the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), round tables and committees that advocate for libraries of all types as well as for specific library issues such as intellectual freedom, rural libraries, services to the disabled, and others. OLA will also facilitate increased collaboration with the Association for Library Trustees and Advocates (ALTA) and Friends of Libraries USA to extend and strengthen the reach of Friends and trustees around the country.

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The office will be home to the advocacy institutes offered as Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference preconferences since 2005 as well as during regional, statewide, and division conferences. These trainings have provided hundreds of librarians, trustees, and Friends with practical information on planning and implementing successful advocacy initiatives.

Work is also underway on a new initiative called Advocacy University, a series of online and in-person training courses geared to specific advocacy objectives. …