Committee Spotlight - Advocacy Committee

Advocacy Committee

November 21, 2019

Folks often think that ‘advocacy’ is just talking with elected officials when you need something. And since that’s the case, they don’t need to worry about it because their director or their Trustees or the ILA staff know who to talk to already. 

Well, not quite.
Advocacy is more than trying to get elected officials to do what we want and it also has a much simpler definition. 
Advocacy is the public support for a particular cause.  (In this case, the cause is libraries.)
That definition includes working with politicians, sure, but it can also be much more of a day-by-day effort.  Advocacy is promoting your summer reading program.  It’s helping students understand when libraries are better options than Google or Wikipedia or Apple.  Every time you gently correct some bit of library misinformation, you’re doing advocacy!
ILA’s Advocacy Committee provides resources to all Illinois libraries so they can best support and promote their causes.  We play a critical role in identifying those causes at the state and national level. 
ILA’s strategic plan puts advocacy front and center. Our long-term goals include having every library employee and trustee effectively advocate for their library.  Everyone from the executive director to the high school shelver should have the knowledge and confidence to make this goal a reality.  A big challenge in meeting this goal is educating people about advocacy.  Another is convincing them that advocacy isn’t something ‘others’ do.  That they (you) can do advocacy. 
Our short-term goals are many and varied.  We work with ILA staff and local coordinators to host eight legislative meet-ups throughout Illinois.  Although they vary, each meet-up is an opportunity for state and national elected representatives to meet staff and trustees from the libraries in their districts.  We also propose several programs for ILA’s annual conference. This year, we’re working on developing a set of training modules that can be modified to meet the needs of different audiences. 
Advocating for libraries includes building and maintaining relationships beyond the profession. The Advocacy Committee has been accepted to talk at the annual conference for park districts and park departments in January.  We’ll talk about ways parks and libraries work together to provide better services for their communities. We’ll also talk about the foundational philosophies that libraries share like the ALA Bill of Rights and the Illinois Library Confidentiality Act, so they can better understand how we approach our services.  We hope this workshop will build a strong spirit of cooperation between our two agencies.  And we hope to enhance the relationship among ILA and the two statewide park associations so that when there are common statewide causes, we can act in harmony for mutual benefit. 
The Advocacy Committee is diverse group comprised of academic, public, special, and school librarians across the state.  We meet on the first Monday of each month. The meetings are scheduled on the same day as the Public Policy Committee’s (PPC) gathering because the two groups work closely together. 
If all this sounds awesome to you (and really, how could it not?), feel free to sit in on our next meeting!  It’s on Monday, December 2, 2019 at the RAILS office (125 Tower Drive, Burr Ridge, IL). The conference call information changes each month, so please contact co-chairs Alex Todd or Jim Deiters for current information. 
When you’re ready to sign-up and become a full-fledged Advocacy Committee Member, Veronica DeFazio, ILA’s president-elect (and Advocacy Committee alumnus) will add you to the list to be considered for membership.

This spotlight was written by Advocacy Committee Co-Chair Alexander C. Todd. Pictured: Advocacy Committee Co-Chairs Alexander C. Todd and Jim Deiters. 

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