Last week, I was in Washington, DC for National Library Legislative Day, the ALA sponsored “hill fly-in” (that’s what the locals call it) where library advocates meet with their representatives and senators to explain library needs and ask for help.
Naturally, there was a lot of discouraging news related to the budget. LSTA is cut because of sequestration. We can never seem to get enough money for school libraries. ( I was in one briefing session where I learned that between the school years 2007-08 and 2011-12, 270 school librarians were eliminated across the US.)
We did hear some good news, however, from Lee Rainie, the Director of the Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center. Their most recent report, just published on May 1, focuses on libraries and families, especially the value that parents place on libraries for their children. This is certainly not surprising to me; I learned early on as a library director that kids bring their parents to the library, parents vote, and kids grow up to vote. Two key takeaways from Rainie: “mothers stand out when it comes to reading and libraries” and “parents are more likely to be interested in expanding library services and adding future tech-related services.” Good things to bear in mind the next time you are looking for a budget increase, a new building or a referendum.
The Chicago Tribune published an extended article about Rainie’s report and moms’ love for libraries just yesterday, May 15.
But here was the most interesting fact I learned. Libraries have continued to be highly valued, and held in high esteem by the public when every other institution’s reputation and rating has suffered. In a time when government agencies across the board are regularly reviled, libraries are respected and valued.
This is information we can “take to the bank” as we advocate for new buildings, more hours and added services. And, it reflects our dedication to the communities we serve, our responsiveness to customer needs and our close connections to our users.
Check out the Pew reports at www.pewinternet.org. They are fascinating, useful and affirming!