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Librarians Build Communities: Advocacy through volunteerism


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Librarians have a set of very useful skills, which could benefit our local communities enormously. Librarians Build Communities is a program designed to match librarian volunteers with organizations in their communities, both to build partnerships between libraries and other organizations and to advocate on behalf of libraries and librarianship, by showcasing librarians' skill sets. It is still in its early stages, with pilot projects in a few cities and states, but we have put together a toolkit for running this program in other areas and hope it will grow quickly.

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Librarians Build Communities: Advocacy through volunteerism

  1. 1. +LibrariansBuildCommunitiesAdvocacy throughvolunteerism Coral Sheldon-Hess @web_librarian
  2. 2. + 2 Agenda  Why do we need LBC?  What is LBC?  History  Upcoming projects  Howdo you implement your own LBC?
  3. 3. + 3 Library funding is on the decrease Source:
  4. 4. + 4 Librarians have a PR problem Source:
  5. 5. + 5 “So you get to read books all day?”
  6. 6. + 6 “Jobs for Loners” “Jobs for Loners,”, Daniel Bukszpan, posted May 7, 2012. Slide 2.
  7. 7. + 7 Library advocacy
  8. 8. + 8 Librarian advocacy? ( )
  9. 9. + 9 But does the message get out? (This is an echo chamber.) Source:
  10. 10. + 10 We need community engagement Sources:,
  11. 11. + 11 Skills-based volunteering Sources:,,
  12. 12. + 12 Agenda  Why do we need LBC?  What is LBC?  History  Upcoming projects  Howdo you implement your own LBC?
  13. 13. + 13 What is Librarians Build Communities? A program run at the regional, state, and local level  One day of volunteering  Librarians* use library skills (research, teaching, technology, organization, preservation, etc.) to help local non-profits  Press releases are sent to local news outlets * In the same sense as our patrons use the word; any library workers.
  14. 14. + 14 Where did this idea come from?  Started in 2006, in New Orleans, as “Libraries Build Communities” (sort of)  2007 - Washington, DC  2008 - Anaheim, CA  2009 - Chicago, IL  2010 - Washington, DC  Work was done in libraries, primarily, with a few other non-profits participating.
  15. 15. + 15 In 2011… ALA’s Chapter Relations Office tasked a group of Emerging Leaders* with developing LBC into a program that could be run at the ALA Chapter (state) level. They returned it to its original name. (Librarians, not Libraries) They made progress, but there was still work left to do. *If you would like to know more about the EL program, ask during Q&A!
  16. 16. + 16 In 2012 A second group of ELs tackled the program. Logo by Eric Conrad  Emphasized advocacy  ScopedLBC back down to one day (for now)  Scoped up to be run regionally, at the state level, or at the local level.  (We commissioned a new logo, too.) Source: ALA Flickr stream
  17. 17. + 17 Also in 2012  We created a new website at  A primer for running your own LBC day  Templates and graphics  Information about the program  A blog for celebrating successful volunteering projects  Our final report is available under . This presentation will be there, too.
  18. 18. + 18 The LBC website  Mostimportant feature is the LBC Primer  Based largely on the Snapshot Day website (Marci Merola let us interview her)  Built in WordPress  Will hopefully find a home on the ALA website in…
  19. 19. + 19 2013! A new class of ELs will take on LBC.  Theyare tasked with finding LBC a home within ALA.  We hope they can expand the program beyond one day. This will be their mentor, Ingrid Abrams.
  20. 20. + 20 Upcoming LBC projects • LaCrosse, WI – 10/12 • Seattle, WA – 01/13? • Valdez, AK – 03/13 • Boise, ID – 08/13? Source:
  21. 21. + 21 Boise? Isn’t that the next PNLA conference location?  Yes.  GinaPersichini (of ICfL; also a mentor to my EL group) and I are hoping to pull together a committee.  Getin touch with one of us if you’d like to help!  (Or if you know the best way to pitch this to the PNLA Board.) Source:
  22. 22. + 22 Alaskan Librarians Build Communities  We have a wiki - http://  Ourcommittee (currently) consists of four people.  Contact me to join!  We’replanning to hold our LBC day immediately before our annual conference in Valdez, next March.
  23. 23. + 23 Wisconsin and Seattle?  Wisconsin got the jump on all of us! (One of the 2011 ELs, Easter DiGiangi, was from WI. She was also our other mentor, this year.)  WIlibrarian-volunteers will be helping the LaCrosse Friends of the Public Library with selection/deselection of gifts.  JaimeHammond has offered to run LBC for the next ALA Midwinter conference, in Seattle. (Want to be on her committee? Email her at!)
  24. 24. + 24 Agenda  Why do we need LBC?  What is LBC?  History  Upcoming projects  Howdo you implement your own LBC?
  25. 25. + 25 How to host a murder mystery LBC day  Pitch it to your association’s board  Put together a committee  Choose a day (immediately before or after a conference is an easy one)  Create a website for easy reference  Find librarian volunteers  Find community organizations to partner with  Publicize your successful volunteer day Source:
  26. 26. + 26 Pitching it to your board  BothAlaska’s and Wisconsin’s boards were very receptive; yours probably will be, too  You can see the documents submitted to each board under the LBC Primer’s Templates & Graphics section.
  27. 27. + 27 A word of (hard-earned) advice  Whenever pitching this program, whether to your board or to a potential volunteer, list the benefits first  “Know your audience” – what problems will LBC solve, what good will it do for the people you’re talking to? Source:
  28. 28. + 28 Your committee (theoretically) A chair, or co-chairs  Someone from the host city  Someone from your library association  Someone from each type of library – public, academic, school, special  (Notactually 7 people; these roles hopefully overlap!)
  29. 29. + 29 Alaska’s committee  Public, Academic, School, and Special are all represented!  But nobody local to Valdez.  Chair/Liaison to National LBC  Volunteer Recruiter  PR Czar  Logistics Czar
  30. 30. + 30 Choosing a day  At the state or regional level, no-brainer: pre- or post- conference!  Doing a local version of LBC? (You should!)  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day -  National Volunteer Week (same in Canada and US, usually the third week of April)  Anniversary of the founding of your library association  Local volunteer day Source:
  31. 31. + 31 Creating a website  You guys, this is so easy. I promise.  Step 1: Get an account with PBWorks  It’s free  Their interface is WYSIWYG  Step 2: Go steal Alaska’s!  (Just like everyone doing Snapshot Day stole NJLA’s website, including Alaska.)  Step3: Customize for your particular setup. If nobody will make you a logo, go get Lily from the LBC website!
  32. 32. + 32 Get librarian volunteers  Ask on mailing lists  Ask your colleagues, individually  Remind everyone that this is advocacy  Remind everyone that they’re helping organizations that need them.  Remind everyone that it’s only a few hours.  If all else fails…
  33. 33. + 33 Appeal to their self-interest!  Volunteering is good for you!  Networking  Resume/CV  Learning new skills  Leadership experience  “Practice on someone else’s stuff.”  Sense of accomplishment  Pro-volunteering discussion points are available on the LBC website
  34. 34. + 34 Find community organizations  Your local committee member may have ideas  United Way is known for keeping lists of local non-profit organizations  The Rotary, the AARP, and the Lions Club may also have ideas or projects for you  There’s a sample letter at the LBC website.
  35. 35. + 35 Take pictures, get quotes, and publicize!  There’sa form on the LBC website for submitting blog posts and photos to the LBC blog.  Sample Press Releases are available in the Templates & Graphics section, as well!
  36. 36. + 36 Other things to consider  “Logistics” - Depending on location, this may be optional.  Getting volunteers to and from the volunteer location.  T-shirts, or no?  Feeding the volunteers, or no?  Remembering to send thank-you notes after the event. Source:
  37. 37. + 37 And that’s really it!  Now you know how to run LBC yourself!
  38. 38. + 38 Thank you!Questions?Comments?Website tour? @librariansbuildCoral Sheldon-Hesscoral@sheldon-hess.org