Committee Spotlight - Advocacy Committee

Advocacy Committee

February 10, 2022

The first goal of the ILA Strategic Plan is Advocacy. We don’t think this is only an alphabetical coincidence. Advocacy is a cornerstone of ILA and for all libraries. Everyone loves the library, but we are easily overlooked. The Advocacy Committee works to remedy this among our legislators and within our communities. Simply stated, Advocacy is the public support for a particular cause. In this case, the cause is libraries and the responsibility extends beyond administrators and trustees trying to sway elected officials to do what we want.  

Advocacy is definitely working with politicians, but it is also the day-to-day conversations had at the check-out desk or in the grocery store when you run into someone in your neighborhood who recognizes you from the library. Every opportunity taken to clarify misconceptions or remind people of all that is available from the library is 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 and work closely with the Public Policy Committee to implement and support an annual legislative agenda.

Our long-term goals include having every library employee and trustee effectively advocate for their library. A big challenge in meeting this goal is educating people about advocacy. The committee recently launched the Ready, Set, Advocate package in support of that goal. The package consists of a toolkit and three presentation modules that correspond to the toolkit content. The toolkit, recordings of the presentations, and presentation slides are available to all from the ILA website and are designed for individual viewing, to present at a board or staff meeting, or to be shown as part of a continuing education opportunity. Toolkit pages are available collected into one comprehensive publication OR topic-by-topic, for ease of use.  

Our short-term goals are many and varied. We work with ILA staff and local coordinators to host Library 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 the ILA Annual Conference

The Advocacy Committee is a 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 this sounds like you, please feel free to sit in on our next meeting! We meet virtually, so please contact ILA Executive Director Diane Foote or co-chairs Magan Szwarek and Nanette Donohue for current information. 

When you’re ready to join the committee, fill out the committee interest form and ILA’s president-elect will add you to the list to be considered for membership.

This spotlight was written by Advocacy Committee Co-Chairs Magan Szwarek and Nanette Donohue.

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