A library advocate is someone who understands the value and importance of public library service and who communicates that value and importance to the community, government leaders, and other decision-makers. As a volunteer leader of the library, you can be a good advocate for the organization because your motivation is service to the community. Board members are also community leaders and influential in the community, prime qualities for an advocate.
When you advocate for better public library services, you are promoting a better quality of life for the people of your community today and in the future. Advocacy is a primary role of a library trustee because you have statutory responsibility for your library's governance and are expected to better its services. You serve as the connection between the local community and its public library and are in a unique position to promote the library and see that it meets the needs of the community.
Your advocacy efforts will generally be part of a planned board effort. The board must speak with one voice. You, as an individual board member, can speak about the board's official position on issues and can also promote the interests of the library at any time.
Your advocacy for the library may include establishing a relationship with the mayor, city council, and county board of supervisors; communicating to the taxpayers the needs and plans of the library; and carrying out public relations activities for the library.
As a library advocate, one of the main responsibilities of the library board is to obtain adequate financing for the library. As a representative of the general public, you can make a more effective case on the importance of adequate funding for the library than the librarian director who may be viewed as having a vested interest in a larger budget.
Effective advocacy requires:
- a deep personal commitment to your library and the services it provides
- willingness to go out into your community on behalf of the library
- a sense of what the community needs the library to be in the future
- willingness to work to help move the library forward