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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Wondering How to Influence Politicians?

Many library advocates around the world wonder about the best ways to influence politicians. How can we get our points across and convince them that libraries are worth funding and voting for? As is often the case, there is actual data out there to help you so you don't have to guess or "reinvent the wheel" by going through your own lengthy trial-and-error process. 

I just discovered this post, called "Advocacy and Influence," from the new-ish blog of Ken Haycock & Associates, Inc. Dr. Haycock has had a long & distinguished career, so I trust his recommendations. 

His post begins:
A team of researchers from three countries is examining how elected politicians and their senior administrators make decisions about funding and policy. We started looking at the effectiveness of advocacy for libraries and soon realized that our examination was backwards—we should look at why and how decisions are made and then match advocacy efforts to that context.
What a concept! He goes on to discuss the real meaning of advocacy, and links to a two-part presentation that details the results of the research (so far). He ends by saying this: 
Our presentation includes what generally works for library funding, in addition to these principles, as well as what has not traditionally worked, according to the research.The basic question is why we keep doing the same things when the research and evidence suggests a very different approach.
Sounds like all of us advocates had better go read the research so we can learn to make our efforts more successful!! Don't wait; go there now!

1 comment:

Mike Baldwin said...

Libraries For Democracy
Starting July 4, 2011, libraries and the general public now have a new information resource with the mission of forging a stronger American democracy by helping citizens to be better-informed and more civically active. The resource is the website Libraries For Democracy (LFD), LFD was created by two Texas public librarians, Michael Baldwin and Adam Wright. LFD is a membership website for libraries and librarians. It allows member librarians to gain access to and provide content for democracy and social issues programming for libraries.
LFD is also a free information site for the public. It provides news stories and links to democracy/social issues-related information resources that have been vetted by LFD as providing relevant, useful information. LFD will also provide interactive content such as a survey question of the week on an important current issue. Responders to the survey will have their answers and comments made available to their state and federal elected officials as indicated by the responders’ zip codes. The website also features tools for users to locate their elected representatives and makes it easy to contact them and to follow their legislative actions.
Another interactive LFD feature is Help Yourself! By following simple step-by-step instructions, users will be able to quickly do something that will save them time, money, or frustration. For example, the first Help Yourself item is how to sign up for the federal Telemarketing Don’t Call List. LFD makes it simple to do it quickly and without hassle. These Help Yourself items will be archived for later access as well.
The LFD website will feature a Graph of the Week that presents important social data in the form of an easy to understand graph with commentary by professional social scientists. Interactive games, graphics, and puzzles that relate information on democracy and social issues will also be featured on the LFD website. These are just some of the innovative features that LFD hopes will make the website interesting and useful to the public.
Anyone can join LFD for only $25 per year. During the first year, a lifetime membership is available for only $100. Libraries and organizations can join for $25 -- $100, depending on population served. A Library member will receive a certificate declaring it an American Democracy Center, an icon link to the LFD website, freebies and discounts on products and services, and access to exclusive professional information resources.
The aim of librarian memberships in LFD is to create a network of thousands of librarians who will supply information and ideas to each other. LFD will organize the information and make it available to members. LFD will provide encouragement for librarians to create democracy/social issues-related programming in their libraries. Any type of library and librarian can become an LFD member. Because we’ve just gotten started and there’s just the two of us, our website is still a little rough around the edges and is definitely a work in progress. Please consider joining LFD and help us grow into a powerful service to libraries and to American democracy.
Michael Baldwin and Adam Wright are the founding partners of LFD. Wright is Executive Director of North Texas Library Partners and an expert in IT security. Baldwin is Director of the Benbrook, Texas, Public Library, and is also a former teacher of American Government. He has published several professional articles advocating that libraries should become democracy centers and should make it one of their primary roles to inform the public for responsible citizenship and civic engagement. That is what Libraries For Democracy hopes to accomplish.