United for Libraries Announces “Citizens-Save-Libraries” Campaign Partnership

This summer, MALF hosted “Drafting the Blueprint,” a series of workshops aimed at helping library supporters throughout Minnesota marshal the resources at their disposal to effectively lobby on behalf of their local library.

One key takeaway for all participants in each session can be summed up as follows: libraries come in all shapes and sizes and serve a variety of purposes and audiences, but none can be a valuable community resource over the long term without effective advocacy.

“Citizens-Save-Libraries,” a new campaign hosted by United for Libraries (formerly ALTAFF) and funded by the Neal-Schuman Foundation, is proof positive that this most fundamental lesson is as true on the national library scene as it is in Minnesota. Read the details to learn more.

In the short term, the aptly named “Citizens-Save-Libraries” campaign partnership will provide grants to send advocacy professionals to 20 American libraries experiencing serious and protracted budgetary woes. Once ‘on the ground,’ these experts will “help friends of the library groups, library directors and trustees develop individual blueprints for advocacy campaigns to restore, increase or save threatened library budgets.”

For this purpose, the Neal-Schuman Foundation is giving $75,000 to United for Libraries. The endowment is the single largest in its history – and one of the last. The foundation will disband at the end of the year.  Fortunately, for all parties involved, the Foundation will live on through the long-term ramifications of the “Citizens-Save-Libraries” program.

Public libraries at large are primed to benefit from the experiment and the campaign templates it generates. Prerequisites to participation include sharing lessons learned with library staff and advocates across the country via conference presentations, written articles, and live Q&A sessions over Skype and other online platforms.

Details on applying will be available in January 2013. The first 10 of the 20 participants will be selected and announced in April.

This story is, of course, still very much a work in progress. Check back periodically at both the MALF blog and the United for Libraries website for more details.