If there’s anything the 2016 presidential election cycle taught us, it’s be prepared. We can never underestimate the groundswell of support for an issue, institution, or person who may not support what a library provides to its community; the reliance on fake news rather than on facts (and how easy it is to have it go viral); or the power of emotion over reason.
I wrote recently that the rate of media illiteracy is the information crisis of our time (“Faked Out,” School Library Journal, 1/17, p. 6), but now that very real issue has nonetheless been trumped by a full-on deliberate assault on the flow of information—from journalism and scientific research to dissemination via social media and traditional channels. There is no such thing as an alternate fact, but there is certainly an alternate reality: a chilling, censorial, obfuscating one being offered as a threatening new normal by the new federal administration in the first days and weeks of 2017.
Library for All, a nonprofit organization that has created a digital library solution designed to deliver ebooks and high-quality educational materials to children and readers in developing countries, was recently honored with an Empowering People Award. The global competition held by the Siemens Stiftung foundation is designed to find the most innovative technology solutions currently improving people’s lives in the developing world.
At their Trustees/Friends luncheon on April 8, the Tennessee Library Association and Friends of Tennessee Libraries (FOTL) jointly honored longtime Friend Julie D. Webb with their Friend of the Year Award, which celebrates a group or individual that has made a significant contribution to a Friends organization and the advancement of libraries in the state.
On a long Election Night filled with tension and political upset, 79 libraries across the country had referenda on the ballot. The news for libraries was more good than bad. At press time, 54 had recorded wins and 12 losses, with the remainder either not applicable—representing votes to leave a district, for instance—or still too close to call.
In this day and age, with libraries forced to defend their funding either to the voters every election cycle or local municipal leaders every budget season, it is essential for Friends groups to climb the ladder of library advocacy and see themselves as citizens who stand up for their libraries. For some, this will be a natural transition; for others, it is a total redefinition of what it means to be a Friend.
When working with political campaigns for EveryLibrary, we are often asked to identify the most important digital tactic for winning campaigns and advocating for libraries. Many of the people who ask expect us to talk about best practices using Facebook or Twitter to reach the public. They are usually surprised to hear we still believe email is the absolute most important tool for digital campaigns. This is true because email is still fundamentally the key to the Internet. Your library’s biggest goal in digital and in-person strategy should be the acquisition of email addresses.
Few libraries were untouched by the economic downturn of the 2000s. As systems began to rebound, however, a challenge was to replace the perception that they were down and out with the new reality of extended hours, replenished staff, and improved services. The strongest marketers among them also focused on the stories behind those comebacks, and information about what users could expect going forward. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (CML), in the city of Charlotte and County of Mecklenburg, NC, was determined not just to recover but to come back stronger than ever, to make sure its customers knew it—and to give them a chance to tell their side of the story.
Over 400 librarians from across the U.S. and Canada came together at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on August 10–13 for the National Diversity in Libraries Conference (NDLC), organized around the theme “Bridges to Inclusion.” Co-presented by the UCLA Libraries and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), this year’s conference was a jam-packed four days of learning, listening, sharing, growing, and strategic planning, providing opportunities for much-needed support and connections among librarians committed to doing diversity work.