Advocacy - Simmons College

For the Academic Library
Advocacy (adapted from ALA)
• Support for a cause or course of action
• Informing and persuading
• Communication
• Two kinds:
1. Reminding people on an ongoing basis of services, activities, and value
2. Communicating a specific message or advocating for a specific outcome
 Economy and soaring prices
 Increased access and irrational expectations
 Decreasing usage and more competition
 Libraries seen as institutions rather than tools
Facing Challenges
 Marketing
 it is not selling; it is satisfying the needs of the customer by
means of the product and the whole cluster of activities
associated with creating, delivering and “consuming”
information and information services
 Public relations
 promoting what we do
 Advocacy
 build campus alliances and partnerships
Facing Challenges
 Most librarians are not trained in marketing, PR and
 And, information and information services is a unique
type of “goods”
 it is not inherently scarce
 it may not exhibit decreasing value of returns to use, but often
increases in value the more it is used
 it is self-regenerative; the identification of a new piece of
knowledge immediately creates both the demand and the supply
 although information has obvious value-in-use, it is difficult to
establish its market value because it is not scarce
Marketing and PR
Communication and Education
 Customer-driven orientation: asks who are the users,
what do they want, how can the library deliver it, and
tell them about it
learn about customers’ needs, values, perceptions and attitudes
use questionnaires
focus groups
secondary research (demographics)
 Customer focus is the relationship between the customer
and the library
 It requires a two-way dialogue with the target audience
 Process
 internal assessment: availability and strengths of library
 external assessment: political climate; demographics;
partnerships with others; funding
 creating options: identifying new programs and services
 narrow the selection of options: prioritize based upon
importance, likelihood of success, and sustainability
 implement the program: promote it thoroughly
 gather feedback: observations; statistics; surveys; focus groups;
 revise implementation if necessary
Public Relations
 Intent is to increase the awareness of library services
 This is who we are, this is what we do
 tells the library’s story; it is getting the message out
 Helps to develop the library’s image
 Tends to be one-way communications from the library to the
target audience
Public Relations
 Effective PR tools
 disseminating information about the library through
 newsletters
 brochures
 e-mail and e-mail newsletters (membership- or functional-based listservs
and mailing lists have been found to be very effective)
the Web
annual reports
news releases
Public Relations
 Effective PR tools (continued)
 library orientations
 receptions to celebrate events
 special events, such as guest speakers
 PR positively affects external fund-raising
 Every library should develop a public relations plan
 Library directors should get some basic training in public
Building Networks and Support
 What
 Understand patron needs and perceptions of the library & inform patrons
of the library’s value and needs
 Promotes the symbiotic relationship between/among institution, library,
& community… Saying to stakeholders (decision-makers, funders, etc.)
“your agenda will be greatly assisted by what we have to offer”
 Attempts to influence the attitudes of a group or individual, more than
just lobbying for support; you also want to advocate organizational
“principles” and “values”
 Who
 Everyone within the library, esp. those with direct patron contact
 Patrons themselves
 Spreads responsibility- not just directors/administrators involved
 Why
 Combat decreased funding and competition from the Internet
 From an October 2002 McGraw-Hill Ryerson survey
 Web-based technology is considered by higher education faculty to be the
most effective institutional resource in encouraging student success,
outweighing the library and tutoring
 Continuing fallout from the “Deserted Library” and decreased
 When
 Continuous and ongoing
Planning for Advocacy
Formal and Informal Approaches
 Encouraging and supporting frontline advocacy
 Be sure all staff members understand:
 What frontline advocacy is and why it’s important that they find
their comfort level and practice it
 What some strategies for doing this might be.
 How and why they are valuable to the library.
 How and why the library is valuable to the college or university
and to the community too.
 How many small positive actions by frontline staff make a big
impact on library users and non-users alike.
 Planning
 Undertake a SWOT analysis- identify:
 Strengths
 Weaknesses
 Opportunities
 Threats
 Based on SWOT, develop goals, objectives, and strategies
 Identify your audience
 Crafting a message
 Based on your goals and objectives, outline a specific message
you want to communicate
 The message should be clear, specific, and brief
 Know what you want to do, why you want to do it, and how
you could accomplish it
 All staff should know and understand the message
 Communicating your message
 Identify effective communication paths/tools
 Remember that different audiences might respond better to
different methods
 Consider
 Face-to-face
 Online (email, blogs/news, SMS, etc.)
 Traditional print (signs, newspaper, brochures, etc.)
Advocacy: Ingredients for Success
 Understanding your library: environment, mission, value,
Work within your comfort zone, but be willing to stretch
Identify, recognize, and seize opportunities
Get involved
Involve others
Say thank you
Library Initiatives
Facing the Challenges
Library Initiatives
 Rethinking Roles:
 Think of the library as an information center rather than a
traditional library
 Attract students back to the physical structure with comfy chairs,
Starbucks, book groups, author readings, galleries, piped-in music,
and information commons.
 the library as a hospitable environment for reading and studying
 doing what the users want, not what the librarians want
 people still need/want “community” -- the library can provide that
 does any of this help students learn?
Library Initiatives
 Collaborate with faculty because:
 hard to track how students are using electronic resources, and
whether they are getting useful and valid information
 faculty = the academy
Library Initiatives
Taking the Business of the Library Outside of its Walls
 Librarians need to progress from the basically passive
liaison model to the proactive consulting model, getting
out of the libraries and becoming information
 consultants work closely with students and scholars in their
offices, laboratories, and classrooms.
 conferring and collaborating with faculty as full partners
 philosophy of continuous learning
 culture of learning, and culture of assessment
Library Initiatives
Taking the Business of the Library Outside of its Walls
 Changing roles for librarians as collaborators,
integrators, instructional designers, and information
consultants as well as new models of instructional
delivery not only increase faculty-librarian contact, but
also dramatic changes in the nature of librarian-faculty
 emphasis on information literacy and the role and
responsibilities of the academic librarian in teaching and
learning in the academy
 emphasis on assertive communicators who listen well
 still, the overall faculty-librarian relationship tends to be
information- or resources-based
Library Initiatives
Taking the Business of the Library Outside of its Walls
New role characteristics
technologically savvy
pedagogically experimental
crosses traditional functional lines
media savvy (uses varying means to disseminate information
such as web pages and zines)
 comfortable with varied or multiple perspectives
 collaborative
 progression from analysis to synthesis and a progression from
control to integration, with learning as the critical organizing
Library Initiatives
Information Literacy
 Information literacy is one of the most current advocacy
efforts now underway
 Collaboration with faculty concerning teaching and
 The model suggested by Ken Smith at Arizona
 library develops “offerings” that are then publicized to the
faculty as “ready-made” modules
Library Initiatives
Information Literacy
 Library must build an image and reputation as a partner
in learning
 we have something to offer -- information seeking, retrieval and
evaluation skills which will improve the productivity of the
student, and result in increasing quality of submitted work
 If we “offer” information literacy without faculty
involvement, it will fail because faculty own the
classroom, and the course content. We are assisting
them, not usurping their educational and professional
Library Initiatives
Information Literacy
 Faculty need to be convinced of a library role concerning
information skills.
 faculty equate computer skills with information literacy
 Librarians can be helpful by proactively helping faculty
check suspected citations in student papers.
 We can also help the faculty member meet the campus
requirements for student learning outcomes assessment
because we can measure an affect from the application of
information literacy modules
Library Initiatives
Distance Education (taking the library to its users)
 MIT’s Open Window
 use of MIT’s OpenCourseWare project
 Expand access to educational materials, making them
free and without restriction for noncommercial use
 Includes: course outline, lecture notes, assignments and
reading lists
 “Intellectual; philanthropy in the world of learning”
Library Initiatives
Distance Education (taking the library to its users)
 Voluntary faculty involvement
 Principle
 some faculty believe that MIT is also obligated to make
knowledge freely available in the world and to champion the
idea that knowledge is “more than just a commodity”
 Promotes exchanges between faculty as they put
together their own courses. MIT hopes other
universities will follow their lead
Library Initiatives
Distance Education (taking the library to its users)
 Problems?:
 ambitious (2,000 courses by 2007)
 unknown costs
 copyrights and other permissions time consuming
Library Initiatives
Distance Education (taking the library to its users)
 DSpace Archive
 Electronic archive for preserving the digital works of MIT
faculty members
 Long-term safekeeping of older versions of professors’ course
materials with their embedded links
 Also serves as an electronic filing cabinet for course
components created by MIT professors (accessed by other
professors looking at simulations, tools and syllabi that are
deposited into DSpace.
 will use metadata
Library Initiatives
Distance Education (taking the library to its users)
 Summary
 increased accessibility of knowledge, especially pedagogy and
 collaboration among faculty
 facilitates and gives structure and content to groups outside of
Library Initiatives
Campus Alliances and Partnerships
 Students using the library
 form a student advisory committee
 Faculty
 as advocates of the budget
 the librarian as a partner in instruction via information literacy
 faculty curriculum committee (they determine the courses to
be offered)
Library Initiatives
Campus Alliances and Partnerships
 Anyone who affects your infrastructure
 Staffing
 Human Resources Department
 payroll
 Technology
 academic and administrative computing
 network services
Library Initiatives
Campus Alliances and Partnerships
 Anyone who affects your infrastructure (continued)
 Facility
 physical plant department
 campus master planning department
 Collections
 faculty
 and do not forget the bookstore
Library Initiatives
Campus Alliances and Partnerships
 Public Relations Departments
 Dean of Students
 Institutional Research (they have the numbers)
 Development Office (fund raising and grant writing)
 Alumni Relations
 Business Office
Library Initiatives
Campus Alliances and Partnerships
 Corporate Education Office
 they provide courses to businesses
 be part of the “package” Corporate Ed can take to a business
 Some relationships are, of course, more important than
 institutional culture will have much to do with who you should
be building alliances and partnering with