Grassroots Report: State Associations Get the News Out

Article excerpt

Think globally, act locally" has been a slogan for everything from political activism to, with minor modification, a microbrewery in my home town. In many respects, this pithy contemporary aphorism also describes the aims of newsletters written for state library association members. Conversations with two newsletter editors whose publications stand out among their peers reveal editorial interest in both the big picture and the thumbnail sketch, the national and the regional news. As a result, one need not hail from New Mexico or Illinois to find information or enjoyment in the pages of these state publications.

Getting personal in N.Mex.

Robert Upton's responsibilities at the New Mexico State Library include editing The Hitchhiker, a weekly newsletter published both in print and on the Web. Upton said the publication's subscription list includes 860 addresses, while the subscription list for e-mail notification is around 300. Available online at www.stlib.state.nm.us since 1996, The Hitchhiker is a popular feature of the state library's site. "It's by far the largest hit on our website," Upton said.

"Having a clear idea of who my audience is and addressing them as individuals rather than as an amorphous group is my main goal," Upton commented. "Because the library community in New Mexico is small, we know each other well. It's a very personal kind of reporting."

Upton estimates that librarians make up 80% of his readership, but the remainder includes some legislators. Citing hearing and committee reports, Upton notes that The Hitchhiker "does have an effect on the legislative level." The general readership, too, reported much satisfaction in a recent survey, offering appreciation for topics covered, particularly national ones like the USA Patriot Act. Upton said readers want to know still more about the workings of the state library and activities in other area libraries, including academic and tribal libraries.

He observed that one important feature of the publication is that "it's a historical document as well as a current document. It's the only record of library activity in New Mexico" and serves as "a unified picture of New Mexico library activity."

Reporting from Illinois

In Illinois, Robert Doyle is both editor of the Illinois Library Association Reporter and the association's executive director. Available both online (www.ila.org/pub/reporter. …