Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Library Advocacy Now!

This year, I had the opportunity to attend the Alberta Library Conference in Jasper. As usual, the conference did not disappoint. One session stands out to me as having been particularly informative: Library Advocacy Now! Library Advocacy Now was a two part session that was presented by Pat Cavill and Wendy Newman, both of whom are well known advocates for libraries. We were provided with print copies of the Library Advocacy Now Training Program for Public Library Staff and Trustees. The Library Advocacy Now program “consists of background material and exercises that will make you understand your own passion for libraries and how better to tell the library story to others.” The online version of the program can be found at http://www.cla.ca/divisions/capl/advocacy/
As a library trustee on my local library board as well as a library staff member here a Chinook Arch, I found this program extremely useful. One exercise called Finding Your Courage helped me to identify the similarities between being a library advocate and risk taking in my own personal life. We were asked to recall a situation is which we took a risk and remember how we felt before, during and after the action. I remembered what it was like purchasing my first home. Before the purchase, I was nervous…a house is a really big purchase that comes with a ton of responsibilities. During the purchasing process, I was anxious and excited, after all I was about to become a homeowner! After the purchase I was proud of myself and very excited to start a new chapter in my life. We were then asked what conditions made the risk taking possible. For me, purchasing my house was made possible with the support and guidance of my family who already had experience with purchasing a home. I was also not alone as my husband was purchasing the home with me…I had a partner. Taking this example and applying the same principles to advocacy I learned that advocacy is made easier when you form partnerships with other people and organizations in your community who hold similar values to your library. And though it seems scary at first, the outcome will be well worth the risk. I encourage you to take this program to your library staff and trustees. It gives you the tools to become a great library advocate and if you don’t advocate for your library, who will?

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