Canadian/Ontario translation follows:
August Is Peak Season for Advocacy
Tips for meeting with your members of Congress
“August is not just for vacations and summer reading programs—it’s high season for library advocacy. US representatives are on recess and back home in their districts to reconnect with their constituents, so now through Labor Day is the perfect time for library advocates to share the many ways we are transforming our communities.
Invite your representative to your library to see in person how your library is meeting the needs of your community. The value of your library’s services may be crystal clear to you and the families, students, researchers, and other patrons you serve, but your elected leaders may not understand the value of your services unless you show them. Here are a few tips from librarians across the country for arranging visits with members of Congress.
Know your legislator’s background and values
During National Library Legislative Day in May, librarians in Rep. Tom Emmer’s (R-Minn.) district invited him to visit their facilities. As Jami Trenam, associate director of collection development of Great River Regional Library (GRRL) in St. Cloud, wrote, “Knowing Mr. Emmer is quite fiscally conservative and serves on the Financial Services Committee, we made sure to highlight programs and services that demonstrate the library’s stewardship of tax dollars.” For GRRL, that meant focusing on their state’s Institute of Museum and Library Services–funded interlibrary loan system and community partnerships on workforce development.
Stay in touch with congressional staffers
Rep. Charlie Crist’s (D-Fla.) staff members became especially interested in technology services after the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office held a National Library Week event showcasing library makerspaces, and libraries in Crist’s district quickly followed up. Crist has visited three libraries in his district over the past three months, focusing on different services each time. As Rino Landa, maker studio coordinator at Clearwater Public Library System, wrote, “The best way for legislators to understand the value of our libraries and library staff is to see us in action.”
Plan B: Visit your decision maker or their staff at their home office
To cover a detailed list of policy priorities, including school and rural library issues, Ann Ewbank, director of Montana State University’s school library media preparation program, requested a one-on-one meeting with Sen. Jon Tester’s (D-Mont.) field staff in Bozeman. In addition to attending a listening session with Tester, “I chose to take the time to meet with my senator’s field office staff because I believe in the power of civic engagement,” Ewbank wrote, “and because I know that libraries change lives.”
Build relationships with other library advocates
When the New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) learned in early 2017 that Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) was going to chair the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, staffers developed an advocacy plan to promote national library interests. Even though the NJLA was unsuccessful in getting a face-to-face meeting, they contributed to ALA’s successful campaign to save federal funding for libraries in the FY2018 budget cycle. “Don’t be discouraged if you are turned down,” writes NJLA Public Policy Committee Chair Eileen Palmer. “Use the opportunity [of sending an invitation] to convey your concern about library funding.”
Most importantly, remember that advocacy is about building relationships, which takes a long-term commitment. Whether the short-term goal is to protect federal funding for library programs in FY2019 or to pass the Marrakesh Treaty, making the health of all America’s libraries a national priority requires your year-round advocacy.
For guidance in setting up a visit with your member of Congress, or for the talking points on current legislative priorities, contact Shawnda Hines, assistant director of communications in ALA’s Washington Office.”
A few folks have told me they’re meeting with the local MPPs and such.
Here’s the information FOPL has been providing when asked. It’s rough but it’s a decent briefing package.
We are preparing a new ASK aligned with conservative policy talking points. However, we have no indication that this government is targeting libraries so we should just be prepared and await our opportunities for input and conversations.
We have meet several times on your behalf with a half dozen Ministers and policy folks. Shelagh and I meet with our advisors bi-weekly and newer collateral is in development.
I will be at AMO in Ottawa walking the talk on August 18-20.
Here’s some stuff that easy to read for your meetings with local MPPs, cabinet folks, the PM, etc.:
- Our original ASK from the Liberals (attached is the original which is being re-worked to align with the new government context)
- We gained a return to 1996 levels of funding for the PLOG for three years. This is an additional $17 million. This is expected to result in a new formula that is tilted toward small town, rural, northern, and FN Libraries.
- We gained $1 million in additional funding for First Nation Libraries which was highly recommended by an MTCS external report. https://fopl.ca/news/released-the-ontario-first-nations-public-libraries-needs-assessment-report/
- We gained $4 million in seed money for an Ontario Digital Public Library and an expectation of additional funding in the following years. This will allow small town, rural, northern, and FN Libraries residents to have equity of access to resources afforded to urban libraries. The external consultation report on this initiative has not been released yet. This is a very high impact proposal for municipalities and local people that can drive cost-effectiveness, equity of access for non-urban areas, and huge social and economic ROI.
We strongly desire to maintain these gains and the restoration of funding in the context of ensuring that Ontarians (the PEOPLE through the cost-effective SOLS/OLS-North and public library systems network) are prepared for the digital worlds of business, employment, entertainment, and education outcomes. Small town, rural, northern, and FN Libraries under-perform and are under-resourced in serving their communities largely due to the funding freeze on libraries since 1996. Ideally this could be positioned as an inexpensive “PLUS” in this government’s first year of government that has an fiscal impact of only $21 million in the first year and pays off big locally in key ridings that are their base (rural, small town, county, etc.) versus some of the bigger cuts they’re going to have to make when the ‘real’ deficit is announced August 30th.
Look for backgrounders and more updates here:
OLA Website Advocacy:
Think About Libraries:
- Note the growth public library usage and performance. Note that we’ve done this transformation to the digital hybrid world with only a 1% increase in budgets total over the last 10 years (not adjusted for inflation ) and a 20 year funding freeze by the province. We can’t stretch the budget any further. This is based on the province’s own data collection and the links are below:
Why yes! We are heading for 1.7 BILLION visits in Ontario’s Public Libraries 2007-2016 and growing!
2016 Ontario Public Library Data Analysis (latest)
Latest peer and influencer analysis of the 2016 Data for First Nation Public Libraries.
Ontario Public Library 2016 Culture Partnerships
Highlights of Public Library Education Partnerships:
3D Printers, Maker Space Labs, and Digital Media Labs, 2015-2016
2016 Analysis of Public Library Partnerships
Impact of Internet Usage in Public Libraries 2017
The BRIDGE Toolkit for assessing technology impact in Ontario Public Libraries!
Insights about Technology Usage and Impact in Ontario’s Public Libraries.
Here are key numbers in a soundbite:
YOUR TOP, TRUSTED COMMUNITY ASSET . . .
In Ontario’s 305 public library systems there are 1157 public library branches serving 99.34% of Ontario’s population including indigenous communities. In person, Libraries see 137 in-person visits per minute – over 80 million visits a year. With our 24/7/365 digital services, that rate more than doubles!
With 155.8 Million visits per year, 426,849 Visits per day, and 17,785 Visits per hour, that comes to 296 visits per minute! There’s simply no other public institution which gets 5 visits every second, all year long.
Ontario’s Public Libraries offer so many fantastic programs equitably for all – over 250,000 in 2016 which attracted over 4.5 Million residents! We’ve grown over 82% in ten years. The public value goes on and on: Early literacy and early learning, career skills, and job help, genealogy, business, entrepreneur and community development, Summer Reading Club, homework help, teen programs, newcomers to Canada, seniors programs, Book Clubs, Culture Days, Makerspaces, and so many more! Choose to visit and learn!
The Public Library value proposition is strong and includes (but isn’t limited to):
- Excellent Return on Investment for municipalities and the province
- Strong Economic Development and Impact (averaging $6 for every $1 invested)
- Great Employment and Business Support
- Access to all kinds of technology – with talented support
- Welcoming New Canadians & Refugees
- Provable Early and Adult Literacy Development
- Ongoing Lifelong Support for Formal Education and Homework Help
- Serving the whole community equitably
- Affordable access to community resources
- Guided access to Government Services and e-government
- Questions Deserve Quality Answers
- Support for Cultural Vitality, creativity, and innovation
- AND Recognized and Valued Leisure Activities for majority of Ontarians
Ontario’s Public Libraries: Check Us Out!
- FOPL has a long list of the municipal resolutions supporting the end of the funding freeze with the MPP identified.
- Invite them to visit the library exhibits at the Legislature Building in Queen’s Park
OLA has a display as part of the Community Exhibits Program at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario
OLA has a display as part of the Community Exhibits Program at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. This exhibit presents just a few of the fun, weird and wonderful things that you can ‘check out’ from libraries across Ontario. Hamilton Public Library has one too.
Good words for positioning statements and story foci:
- Bootstrapping people to help themselves
- Cost effectiveness, efficiency, productivity
- Value for money
- Fair and good use of tax dollars
- Economic development
- School readiness, Skills development, job and Higher-Ed readiness
- Employment, job readiness, job-preparedness, job-seeking
- Shared Services
- Town, village, county, small towns, rural, north
- Focus on the library branch (LOCAL) not the entire system which can look bureaucratic.
Choose stories from small towns, preferably high profile PC ridings.
Should be very interesting this year!