2009 Vermont Library Association Conference Theme: Speaking Up! Advocacy for Libraries

“Isn’t the Internet going to put public libraries out of business?”
“Why do we need school libraries when everything is online?”
“Why do we need a campus library when students can do their research on the Internet?” (Library Advocate’s Handbook, ALA).

Library advocates must adapt to a changing and not always sympathetic political and social environment. We need to be able to explain the role of libraries in the 21st century in order to maintain funding, to be a voice for policy issues ranging from intellectual property to intellectual freedom and protection of privacy.

It is our hope that the 2009 Conference will offer programs that give us the tools and knowledge to explain the importance of libraries to our communities, legislators and funders. We would like to build our own strength as advocates, and also help others – boards, friends, principals, administrators, and community members – to become strong advocates for libraries.

We are looking for programming at the 2009 Conference that will help us spread the word that libraries:

  • are part of the solution to larger problems such as those related to literacy, workforce productivity, crime;
  • have been shown to greatly impact student achievement;
  • will greatly impact preparing children to live, work, and govern in the 21st century;
    are cultural and economic assets to democracy, by preserving and promoting our history and culture;
  • are an information gateway for all, especially for poor, minority, immigrant and rural populations;
  • libraries serve as centers for education, employment and recreation.

Some ideas for programs may include:

  • Using statistics – where you find them, how to use them effectively
  • Speaking to administrators, school boards, news, groups
  • Handling difficult situations
  • Creatively publicizing your work and the work of your students
  • Needs assessments of users, your school, and the community
  • The future of libraries
  • Celebrating the future of libraries in our schools: every student is a patron!
  • School Libraries and Student Achievement
  • Developing relationships with potential advocates and gaining community support
  • Locating and tapping into creative funding sources

Please use the  proposal form and proposal instructions, and send us your ideas! The proposal could be a speaker you know, yourself, a panel discussion, a poster session about something your library has done that has been effective, or some other type of presentation or discussion that will enliven, enthuse and inspire the attendees of the conference. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Barbara Doyle-Wilch & Sara Goldstein
Vermont Library Conference 2009 Co-Chairs