Waking Up to Advocacy in a New Political Reality for Libraries

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The engagement of the US federal government with libraries has been disjointed. Financial support for libraries has been controversial and inconsistent, and many policy decisions have directly affected library operations and activities, particularly those of public libraries. Libraries’ experiences with the federal government offer many lessons about the broad ideological attitude toward—and constraints on—library support before the 2016 election. These lessons have import for all public-sphere institutions as they navigate the even more complicated current environment. This article argues that the best hope for library funding and support is to concentrate efforts at the local and state levels, coordinating efforts and sharing ideas and resources across locations and types of institutions. A national advocacy strategy coordinated across the states will maximize advocacy efforts where we may have a greater chance of success.

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The Library Quarterly, v. 87, no. 4, p. 350-368