The program began with remarks by Melanie Sims (LLA President). She thanked the sponsors and those who produced the conference. She introduced Jim Lorenz, Chief Administrative Officer for East Baton Rouge Parish and representative of Mayor-President Kip Holden. He made the usual comments about libraries and having a special place in his heart growing up in Alexandria. He ended by talking about our attendance at the conference with a joke, “keep spending your money here, we need the sales tax revenue.” He then read the proclamation declaring March 8-12 Louisiana Library Association Week.
Melanie the introduced board and mentioned the display in the lobby in memory of Sallie Farrell. ALA Chapter Councilor Stephanie Braunstein read the ALA Memorial Resolution.
Melanie then introduced Camila Alire (ALA President). [Disclosure, I have known Camila for about 15 years. We began on ALA Council as Chapter Councilors at the same time.] Camila started by noting that she has eaten all over the world, but she had her best meal at Juban’s in Baton Rouge. She also noted that the ALA Annual Conference will be in New Orleans in 2011. As ALA President she has two initiatives, the one she talked about today is the main one. There was a great all day workshop yesterday with good attendance and covering the advocacy topic in detail. Below are some notes based on her talk and slides.
Advocacy from the front lines.
What is advocacy – active support of a cause or course of action (or supporting a group or person).
Traditional types of advocacy: legislative where library administrators, trustees, friends, and general public (library users primarily). Spokane Moms for school libraries in Washington state. Frontline advocacy includes librarians and library support staff (not administrators).
Two simple concepts: be able to articulate the value of our libraries [story about talking with NMLA members who had two reactions: “deer in headlights” not my job; my director will not allow that]; value as library employees. i.e. what can the library do for you.
Need staff to serve as connectors and talk with everyday users. Talk about what the library has. These new users will become the grassroots folks who will speak to support the needs of the library.
Camila used as an example, the University of New Mexico Library's quest to increase their base budget for library materials. They were successful, ultimately, by enlisting staff to advocate with their user groups.
Should everyone be involved in frontline advocacy? Yes, as long as the staff are working at their own comfort level. Level I: Based on title/responsibilities; Level II: other librarians and library staff.
Build a team: determine the extent of frontline staff involvement; involve librarians and library staff in brainstorming/messaging.
Empowering staff: match message with venues and delivery methods; provide scripts and/or “cheat sheets” (i.e. talking points or visuals); work with staff for input on process and delivery; staff members deliver the message; meet to assess outcomes.
Library Advocacy? It’s everybody’s job!
At the end, she said “Anyone who thinks they are too small to be effective….has never been in bed with a mosquito!”
ALA web site with tool kits
Finally she answered two questions. The first was about the timing and remaining work on the ALA strategic plan. The second was about what she what to do if school principal will not release funds for books and magazines what to do… The latter was an interesting situational discussion. The first will be covered in a separate post.
The opening general session ended with two book cart drill teams. The first was the Ouachita Girls whose theme involved the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. The second performance by East Baton Rouge Dewey Deci-Belles with a theme which promotes the Big Read book (this year, The Great Gatsby).
YouTube videos have been posted: