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Insider Article [July 2013] [07/02/13] (Library Community--Unite!)
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Library Community - Unite!

A clarion call to ACTION was sounded to library advocates at the CPLA workshops in Whittier (March 2) and San Mateo (March 16).

Keynote speaker John Chrastka (founder of – a super PAC for libraries) urged the library community literally and figuratively to “Walk Your Precinct”.  Your library director brings trust and legitimacy.  Hone your message so that it resonates with the public such as the library as an educational partner; engine for economic development, and as a social leveler.  Always include your natural partners such as business and labor unions, educators and the entire library community including  Bottom line – winning (without whining) is a team effort for campaigns and in your state capitol and at city hall.

Acting State Librarian Gerald Maginnity talked about a library’s core functions which include: Collect, Preserve, Connect and Create.  He stressed that state budget cut backs and the Federal “Sequester” are having a serious negative impact on the State Library’s ability to assist local libraries with financial support and grants. 

“Promises Made – Promises Kept” was the theme of Community Relations Coordinator Ann Miller from the Solano County Library at the San Mateo workshop.  In 2012, the 1/8 cent sales tax was renewed by the voters for the three library jurisdictions in Solano County which includes Benicia and Dixon Public Libraries by 80%. Since it was first passed, the library has reported annually to the voters how their tax money has been invested in enhanced library services.  To win passage took, friends, leadership and money.  She reported that data shows voters’ attitudes can be influenced by:  a passionate librarian, the transformational power of the library and only marginally by whether the voter is a library user or not.  Ann concluded with “Social networks are not always about technology”. Make use of all your library supporters to help campaign and get the message out.

CLA President Derek Wolfgram reported that local advocacy efforts will focus this year on “Spring in the District”.  Library supporters are encouraged to meet with their legislators as a team. Advocacy efforts will include supporting the $5.0 million funding for literacy and CLSA (California Library Services Act); along with SCA7 (Senator Lois Wolk’s proposed constitutional amendment to lower the voter approval threshold for library measures from 2/3 to 55%. Additionally, CLA is asking support for SCR 14 (Senate Concurrent Resolution) also sponsored by Senator Wolk which celebrates “National Library Week”. Lastly, support is requested for SB 331 (Senator Carol Liu) which would help all libraries have high speed internet connectivity. Funding for PLF (Public Library Foundation) and TBR (Transaction Based Reimbursement) is not in this year’s budget “ask”.  However, they could be in future years’ as they remain part of the CLSA. Derek further stated that the old fashioned method of writing letters to our legislators is still the best way to communicate and show support for the important library issues. Normally, it only takes 30 letters on a given subject to get a legislator’s attention.  Imagine what would happen if all members of CLA and CPLA were to write letters?

There was truly a clear call to action at both workshops.  Library supporters must work together, “make some noise” and let our officials know that libraries remain as important and relevant as ever.

Written by Alan B. Smith