Trustee Tuesday: Advocacy, Naturally

In these days before the presidential inauguration, it is easy to focus solely on the federal government, but now is when decisions in state government are being made that directly and deeply impact your communities. (This email contains a lot of embedded links – they are exactly what they say they are and most advocacy links will direct you to a webpage within the New York Library Association website.)

Last week Governor Cuomo gave a touring version of the State of the State address. In it, library advocates around the state heard his priorities, and also the call to reduce funding to all agencies to 2015 levels – a cut of funding to libraries of 5% and a threat to the gains made in Construction Aid last year that totaled nearly a half of a million dollars for our local community libraries.

Advocacy for libraries comes in many forms: it’s the open smile at the circulation desk and the open conversation about funding in the grocery line. It is signing a letter, calling your legislators, and visiting their offices. What we hear from many of our colleagues and peers is that while they love libraries, they are afraid they are not the best to speak for them.

Effective advocacy communication is your library story told in a way that 1) aligns with the legislator/funder/decision maker’s priorities, and 2) reinforces the themes in stories of other library and community advocates. To do this first part, take a minute before visiting your legislator (town, county, or state) to familiarize yourself with their campaign platform, website, or laws drafted. To do the second, visit NYLA’s Legislative Priorities page. One of the advantages of supporting our state’s professional association is that they can coordinate our collective interests and help align those with what folks in Albany are talking about. Framing your library story to reinforce those collective interests helps us all make a bigger impact.

This year, as part of the Library Advocacy Day bus to Albany that STLS coordinates, we’ll be doing an interactive workshop called Advocacy, Naturally. It won’t occupy the whole ride to Albany, but we’ll make sure that you are entertained and engaged on the way, and when you arrive you will feel confident in talking with your representatives in state government.

The Get on the Bus & Advocacy, Naturally sign ups will be circulating in the delivery the coming weeks and posted on our website (online registration will open Sunday).

Upcoming STLS Events
(registration still open on all of these events!)
Wed, Jan 25, 2017 — Get the Grant! at 11:00 AM – Dormann Library, Bath. After the DAC. 
Tue, Jan 31, 2017 — Book Breakfast at 9:30 AM – Cohocton Public Library. Program ideas & sharing.
Sat, Feb 11, 2017 — Get the Grant! at 10:30 AM – Belmont Free Library. Duplicate of Bath program.
Tue, Feb 14, 2017 — Trustee Book Club – The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu at 2:30 PM  These conversations are fun and enriching. You can still sign up and have me send you a book – for free!
Wed, Mar 1, 2017 — Advocacy, Naturally – Library Legislative Advocacy Day at 5:45 AM – A long bus ride for an uplifting and energizing day of telling your library story and advocating for your community.
For all upcoming events, please visit the STLS program calendar.

As ever, please contact me with questions, concerns, and ideas.

In advocacy – for libraries and communities,
Margo Gustina
Trustee Consultant