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Because Libraries Transform: ALA’s New Public Awareness Campaign

by on October 19, 2015

It won’t be too much of a challenge to embrace ALA’s newly released Libraries Transform public awareness campaign. After all, librarians have been transforming themselves and their communities since the inception of libraries. Although there was a time in our history we librarians were quite sluggish to adapt, over the last twenty years we’ve made up for it in leaps and bounds. This three-year campaign will officially launch to the profession and the public in the fall of 2015 so now is a great time to review the campaign and contemplate how you will implement it in your community.

The campaign overview defines its goals and objectives and gives an explanation of how this campaign dovetails with existing ALA public awareness efforts. Over the course of the campaign, the Libraries Transform brand will replace the “@ Your Library” campaign brand as ALA’s signature public awareness campaign. The campaign has several components including provocative “Because” statements that answer the question, “Why are libraries transforming?” Answers include, “Because employers want candidates who know the difference between a web search and research” and “Because why shouldn’t you be able to bring your Grande Caramel Snickerdoodle Macchiato.” The “Because” statements are part of a toolkit and made available as downloadable posters and banners.

Libraries are expected to create their own “Because” statements and encourage their end users to do the same. It goes without saying that the “Because” statements offer multiple answers to the “why libraries matter” question and/or statement posed throughout the last several years in various articles, speeches, and posts. Because transformative libraries are forever forward-thinking, the campaign outlines major trends providing perspective on how they impact libraries and what librarians should know about them. Trends like the “internet of things” focus on smaller devices, many unseen such as wearable technology and the further chasm between the technology haves and have-nots. Other trends include the increase of digital natives (those born after 1980), drones, robots, economy sharing, flipped learning, and curiously enough, the unplugged movement (of which I am a big fan). Each trend is described and its impact for librarians outlined.

Frankly, I’m quite jazzed about the campaign and can see many ways to incorporate the public awareness elements of it into advocacy efforts I am already making. How can librarians embrace and enable the campaign locally? Start early, begin speaking about the campaign to colleagues, incorporate it into one’s state or regional library association, and share it with friends of the library groups, boards, and trustees. Convene local library advocates to create “Because” statements that resonate and speak to your local community. As the campaign develops, so will your local efforts. Keep an eye out on how other libraries are implementing it by signing up for updates on the campaign’s web site.

If you’re planning on using the Libraries Transform public awareness campaign I invite you to comment below on your thoughts and ideas on how to localize it in your community.

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