Magazine article American Libraries

Join ALA's Campaign for America's Libraries

Magazine article American Libraries

Join ALA's Campaign for America's Libraries

Article excerpt

Americans love their libraries. More than 81% used libraries last year. In the most recent election, citizens voted over-whelmingly to support bond issues to build and improve libraries, particularly neighborhood branches, and 95% of public libraries now offer free Internet access to the public, sparking new audiences for the library's electronic and print services. Thanks to the tireless advocacy of librarians and library users, funding from government, foundations, corporations, and individuals has increased. Nevertheless, while libraries in America have enjoyed a renaissance over the last decade, we still face enormous hurdles to providing quality library services in every community. Our libraries cannot live on love alone.

As we enter the new millennium, it is more critical than ever that we capture the public's attention. In 1999, ALA contracted with BSMG Worldwide, a New York-based public-relations firm, to develop a major public-awareness campaign. BSMG's first step was to assess public perception of libraries. Not surprisingly, they found that libraries are popular and well liked, accepted often without strong feelings or real understanding. Libraries are everywhere, rooted in nearly every school, campus, and community, but they are most visible when under siege. They noted that libraries are unique, playing a role of no other institution in our democracy, but not always able to communicate that uniqueness. And, on the negative side, they found that consumers see libraries as somewhat archaic, their resources limited and dated, and their facilities intimidating and difficult to navigate.

The goal of ALA's exciting five-year Campaign for America's Libraries is to capture the public's imagination by fostering a new understanding of the value of libraries and librarians to our democracy. The campaign will build upon a strong foundation of public support and a long history of successful communications efforts. ALA's goal is to present a positive, consistent set of messages over a multiyear period, underscoring that:

1. Libraries are unique. They are one-stop shops. In person. Online. Where else can you have access to nearly anything on the Web or in print as well as personal service and assistance in finding it? …

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