Advocacy and Community Relations

Effective Advocacy is Local

Results from surveys conducted by the State Library show that advocacy is one of the services that librarians want the State Library to provide. This is one of the State Library's responsibilities. However, much of the advocacy literature points out that the most effective advocacy efforts are local.

Advocacy is:

  • leaving the comfort of the library’s walls and getting out into the community
  • establishing relationships with the decision makers and citizens
  • speaking one message that the library matters to the community
  • writing letters to your representatives or the board of selectmen in your town; write to your state legislative leaders
  • attending hearings or sessions that are of crucial importance to libraries

Libraries and Community

Libraries Transform Campaign- An ALA initiative to increase public awareness of the value, impact and services provided by libraries and library professionals. The goal is to ensure there is one clear, energetic voice for our profession and showcase the transformative nature of today’s libraries and elevate the critical role libraries play in the digital age.

Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Libraries [pdf, 1,180kb]- Aspen Institute Report Re-Envisioning Action Guide

Making Headway ME- Tools from Maine Downtown Center and Grow Smart Maine for making positive change. Download the Community Worksheet [pdf, 2.127kb]

Community Engagement Toolkit [pdf, 3.19MB]- practical tools developed by the Missouri State Library includes sections on using data to assess community needs, partner mapping, effective presentations, collective leadership, collaboration and facilitation.

Libraries Transform Communities - Resources for ALA's iniatitive with the Harwood Institute Harwood in a Half Hour - a series of topics focusing on building skills to bolster you and your work in public life. These are free but you will have to register to view.
Turning Outward webinars from Programming Librarian

Community Heart and Soul - The Orton Foundation's path to strengthening communities. Download the free field guide.

Community Tool Box - The Community Tool Box is a free, online resource for those working to build healthier communities and bring about social change. Want to learn about community assessment, planning, intervention, evaluation, advocacy, and other aspects of community practice? Then help yourself to over 300 educational modules and other free tools.

Advocacy Tools from the State Library

Some files below are PDF files and require the free Adobe Reader.

Value Calculators

More Advocacy Tools

  • Statistics from the Annual Report - See tips on how to use these numbers.
  • Testify before Joint Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs and Joint Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs
  • Try this tip! Libraries can figure out how much it costs per household per month to fund them. For example if Library A receives $8,000 annually and there are 200 households in town, it costs $3.33 per month per household to support the library. Compare that with the cost of Internet, telephone, cable, heat, electric or any other monthly billing item.

Courses and webinars

  • WebJunction Maine: The Maine State Library sponsors these free WebJunction courses for the professional development of Maine library staff who register with WebJunction Maine. A combination of free and low cost ($10-$50) courses designed for librarians.


Maximize the Potential of Your Public Library: "Learn how public libraries can help local governments tackle critical community priorities such as economic development, public safety, environmental sustainability, cultural diversity, education, and literacy." 2011 publication

New Jersey's Seven Simple Steps to Advocacy Success: "The Staff can be the Key to a Great Relationship" and more

Telling Your Library's Story - resources from the State Library of Iowa. Find examples of speeches about library services and tips on using statistics and graphics. Some of the links on this page no longer work but many of them lead to great resources.

American Library Association Resources

Tell Your Story: Persuading Decision Makers - A great advocacy campaign requires an effective message, creative ways of communicating it, an audience that includes decision makers, and meaningful jobs for people who want to help you get your message out.

Advocacy University - This is an updated and currrent list of advocacy tools and resources for all types of libraries from the American Library Association: topics:

2008 ALA online Library Advocates Handbook

Data in Action! " The Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study is a rich resource of data released to computer and Internet access in U.S. public libraries - including available Internet services, support for employment and e-government services, percent of libraries that are the only community provider of free public computer and Internet access, barriers to improved technology access and technology expenditures."