As the end of the year inches ever nearer, it’s time for the requisite best of lists. Advocacy is no exception and deserves special attention because keeping our libraries and open and thriving allow for all of those other best of lists to have purpose in LibraryLand. The YALSA Legislative Committee brings you the best of advocacy in 2012, in no particular order.
- This girl: Whittier, CA seventh-grader Molly Hansen is running a campaign for keep her school library open. Molly started a petition that garnered more than 330 signatures from fellow students and now has the town mayor, several city council members, and other stakeholders supporting her. The word is still out on whether her efforts will result in open library doors, but Molly’s passionate advocacy serves as a reminder that anyone can be an advocate.
- Readily-available advocacy tools: YALSA offers myriad tools for advocacy. The Speaking Up For Library Services to Teens guide is a comprehensive, easy to enact tool kit. The Tweet Your Senator Map allows people to advocate directly to their senators via Twitter. A Tweet Your Representative Map is planned for 2013 in time for National Library Legislative Day, another opportunity for advocacy which is also available in virtual format!
- The Save the Troy Library reverse psychology campaign: love it or hate it, but it cannot be ignored. Advocates, with the help of Leo Burnett advertising agency, created a fake campaign calling to close the Troy, NY public library and burn its books. The campaign, enacted before an election that included a proposal to fund the library, created a huge stir. Right before the election, the campaign revealed their true message: “A vote against the library is like a vote to burn books.”
- Neil Gaiman’s Twitter feed: a librarian favorite who gives back to his supporters in spades, Gaiman is a voracious Tweeter who uses his much-followed feed to spread the advocacy word. Gaiman is well-known for sharing links fans send him about library campaigns, libraries in danger of closing, and books targeted for banning and other censorship issues.
- Ilovelibraries.org: The I Love Libraries campaign delivers positive, upbeat, proactive advocacy in one handy web site. From the Carnegie Corporation I Love My Librarian Award to videos featuring authors waxing poetic about libraries, this site is a great reminder that advocacy does not have to feel like a fight, a battle, or any other war metaphor. Advocacy can be about the joy of what makes libraries great.
Advocacy comes in all shapes and sizes. We hope this list has inspired you to add Advocate for Libraries to your 2013 resolutions. If you have an advocacy story to share with fellow YALSA members, please contact Lizz Zitron, the Legislative Committee chair, at Lizz@carthage.edu.