I can’t speak for all MLIS programs, but at Syracuse University, the themes of advocacy and activism in librarianship are woven throughout our required courses, internships and unofficial mentorships. The fact that we need to be (and are) educated to advocate not only says a lot about the undue challenges of the librarian profession, but it speaks volumes about librarians as a breed.
Today is Library Advocacy Day in Albany, NY. Librarians from all over New York State are travelling from near and far to meet with representatives to try to prevent additional, crippling budget cuts. Here are some quick facts about why New York State Librarians feel they need to be there to stick up for us today:
- There has been no change in the state funding formulas for libraries and library systems, as defined in Education Law in 1990.
- According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics since 1990 inflation has reduced buying power by 59.63% ($100 in 2010 has the same buying power as $59.63 in 1990).
- Library Aid makes up less than 1/10 of 1% of the state budget, yet libraries serve 57% of the state’s population (10.6 million library card holders) or 75% of New York households
- Library usage is up across the country and state. Visits to libraries have increased by 11% from 2005 to 2009 from 107 million to 120 million. Circulation has also grown from 142 million items in 2005 to 160 million in 2009. (12% increase). Even though NYS population only grew by 1.3% between 2005 and 2009.
2011 NYLA Library Advocacy Day. (2011). . RCLS. Retrieved from http://www.rcls.org/images/uploads/misc/1298477618_NYLALibraryAdvocacyHandout-A20110301.pdf
Advocacy Talking Points. (2011). . New York Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.nyla.org/content/user_4/2011_talkingpoints.pdf