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Public Awareness Committee - Meeting Notes from 2010 Annual Conference in Washington

Public Awareness Committee Meeting
2010 ALA Annual Conference
Meeting Room 2
Monday, June 28
1:30 -3:30 p.m.
Washington, D.C.


Leslie Burger – Chair
Stephanie Bange
John W. Berry
Holly Clark Carroll
Diane Chen, ALA Executive Board liaison
Nancy Dowd
Judith Gibbons
Sharon Johnson
Bohyun Kim
Desiree Leary
Donna Morris
Cyndi Phillip
Brenda Pruitt-Annisette
Lisa Rice
Rocco Staino
Sue Tyson
ALA Staff:
Cathleen Bourdon
Mark Gould
Megan Humphrey
Megan McFarlane


Roberta Stevens, incoming ALA President, updated the committee on her initiatives:

  • Frontline Fundraising: A new toolkit for rural, small and medium libraries will include templates and materials for “soft touch” fundraising initiatives that libraries can implement in the current economic climate. Programming will also feature tools on how to reach out and get the backing of major donors.
  • Why I need my library is an initiative focused on growing and developing a new generation of library advocates by encouraging them to submit a video about their library. The initiative will target children and teens. Cash prizes will be awarded to public and school libraries that participate.
  • Our Author, Our Advocates:. The initiative targets authorswho are willing to lend their voices in speaking out about the need for libraries and library funding. To date, 50 authors have committed to speaking about the value of libraries and librarians. Authors who have been interviewed by the Public Information Office (PIO) include Salman Rushdie, John Grisham and Toni Morrison. Interviews will be available to all libraries and library supporters to help in promoting libraries and librarians. T

Mark Gould, PIO Director, updated the committee on the Public Information Office’s activities:

AASL/AP article

PIO began conference with a timely article by the Associated Press (AP) on the importance of school libraries. The article, which was done in collaboration with the American Association of School Librarians (AASL),  was picked up by over 250 news sources.


Atyourlibrary.org is ALA’s new public website, was  developed by American Libraries’ editor Leonard Kniffel. The website was developed with seed money from Carnegie Corporation of New York, The New York Times  with more recent support from Disney Book Group.

The website transitioned to ALA staff from an outside vendor prior to the Midwinter Meeting in January, with Leonard Kniffel acting as the publisher and Mark Gould as editor-in-chief. PIO and American Libraries’ staff contribute content that is implicitly and explicitly about libraries. All materials referenced on atyourlibrary.org are linked to WorldCat so readers can check the item’s availability at their own library. All articles are available for libraries to repurpose on their websites or newsletters.  

This spring, the website hosted the Explore your universe @ your library contest in conjunction with IMAX.

Dollar General/The American Dream Starts @ your library

This winter, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation committed to a second round of grants through The American Dream Starts @ your library literacy initiative.  The program awarded 75 public libraries in 24 states $5,000 grants to create and expand literacy programs and programs for adult English language learners.

The American Dream Starts @ your library program was launched in 2008 at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia and provided grants to 34 public libraries. The American Dream Starts @ your library is administered by the Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS).

The Campaign for America’s Libraries and Public Information Office (PIO) staff is working with OLOS on media relations.


Megan Humphrey, Manager of the Campaign for America’s Libraries, provided an update of recent Campaign activities:

Connect with your kids @ your library

Connect with your kids @ your library is the Campaign for America’s Libraries’ new partnership with Scholastic Parents & Kids magazine. Scholastic has agreed to donate ad space in six issues of its publication.  ALA will produce a family activity guide for parents and caregivers about spending time with their family at the library, at home and in the community.  Libraries will be able to download the guide for free online.  Printing of the guide for libraries is pending corporate support.

Univision/en tu biblioteca

Univision Radio continues to air PSAs about libraries on its stations in select markets.  ALA is engaged in conversation with Univision about folding libraries into Univision’s own public education campaign across radio, TV and web outlets. 

Woman’s Day magazine

This March marked the beginning of the ninth year of the Campaign for America’s Libraries’ partnership with Woman’s Day Magazine. This year, the program kicked off with a timely story on how Woman’s Day readers used the library to save money during tough economic times. In the same issue, the magazine asked readers to send in their stories about why they believe the library is important to their community. In response to this initiative, the Campaign/Woman’s Day received more than 220 entries from across the country.

In 2010, the program’s format changed with one story being profiled in the magazine, and three more featured on Woman’s Day’s website. The womansday.com site receives more than 1.5 million unique visits per month.

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum – Step Up to the Plate @ your library

The Campaign launched the fifth season of Step Up to the Plate @ your library in April. This year’s program features questions developed by the library staff at the Baseball Hall of Fame and tie-in with ALA’s first annual Preservation Week; as a collecting museum and library, the Baseball Hall Fame developed several questions about its exhibits. The program runs through September 4.

IFLA/ Campaign for the World’s Libraries

To date, 36 countries have become members of the Campaign for the World’s Libraries. In fall 2009, both the Romania Library Association and the Library and Information Association of Jamaica joined the Campaign. Shortly after joining, the Romania Library Association presented on the Campaign for the World's Libraries at its national conference in September.

During the summer, the Association of Greek Librarians and Information Scientists presented their @ your library campaign for school libraries at the 2009 IFLA Conference in Milan, Italy. 

John W. Berry, the Campaign for America’s Libraries’ subcommittee chair, recommended looking into the possibility of a corporate partner to support the Campaign for the World’s Libraries. It was also recommended that the Campaign coordinate with the Gates Foundation’s new initiative about building international library associations.  In particular, it was recommended that materials on the Campaign for the World’s Libraries be included in the Gates Foundation’s train-the-trainer materials.

Another possible option was working more closely with the U.S. State Department and building Campaign for the World’s Libraries materials into what they are already doing.

Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award

The I Love My Librarian award will continue for its third year beginning August 2, 2010.  Sponsored by Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times, the award will recognize up to 10 librarians from academic, public and school libraries for their service to their communities.

During year two, 3,500 nominations were received, with 1,600 individual entries. Individual entries were up 200 entries from the previous year.

AASL toolkit

The American Association for School Librarians (AASL) is currently working at updating and streamlining its @ your library toolkit. The toolkit debuted in 2003.  ACRL updated its toolkit in 2008.

Library Card Sign-up Month

This September, NBA star Dwyane Wade will serve as Honorary Chair of Library Card Sign-up Month. As the Honorary Chair, Wade has donated his image for a print public service announcement (PSA) that ALA will place in magazines during the month of September. Librarians can download the PSA as is or have it customized with the library’s own logo at no cost.

During Library Card Sign-up Month 2009, Wade donated $25,000 through his Wade’s World Foundation to help save the struggling William Leonard Public Library in Robbins, Ill. Wade is scheduled to visit the library in July as a promotion for Library Card Sign-up Month.

National Library Week

Neil Gaiman, Honorary Chair of National Library Week 2010, kicked off National Library Week on April 12 with a live Internet event. Coordinated by the America’s Libraries and the Jessamine County (Ky.) Public Library (JCPL), “An Evening with Neil Gaiman” was streamed live by nearly 700 individuals and more than 120 libraries hosting National Library Week events. Video of the event is archived on atyourlibrary.org.

In addition to the event, Gaiman donated his time and image to the creation of a print PSA. He also promoted the value of libraries and librarians to his followers on Twitter and his blog throughout the week, as well as making an appearance on Minnesota Public Radio (MPR).

As part of incoming ALA President, Roberta Stevens’ Our Authors, Our Advocates initiative, author John Grisham has agreed to serve as the Honorary Chair of National Library Week 2011 (April 10-16).


Lisa Rice, Chair of the National Library Week subcommittee provided and update on the committee’s meeting:

The committee recently selected three potential themes for National Library Week 2011, based on incoming ALA President Roberta Stevens’ presidential initiatives. The themes were submitted to Stevens, and Create your own story @ your library was selected. The committee met at the ALA Annual Conference to develop programming ideas based on the theme that can be used by all types of libraries. Programming ideas will be available on the ALA website this fall.

The committee took time at Sunday’s PR Forum to recognize the Poudre River Public Library District as the winner of the 2010 Scholastic Library Publishing National Library Week grant.


Megan Humphrey, Manager of the Campaign for America’s Libraries provided reported on the Public Relations Assembly Subcommittee:

The 2010 PR Forum took place on Sunday, June 27. Stephen Abram provided a follow up to his 2007 PR Forum presentation on marketing libraries using new technologies. Feedback on the program was all positive.

The PR Assembly met on Monday, June 28, to discuss ideas for the 2011 PR Forum. One recommendation was a mobile marketing program. The PR Assembly would like to reach out to the Public Awareness Committee for stories on how their libraries have used mobile marketing, library apps and widgets.

Nancy Dowd said she would follow up with the committee about the New Jersey State Library’s mobile marketing campaign.


Macey Morales, Manager, PIO Media Relations:

PIO’s Media Relations department reports that more than 250 news outlets picked up the AP’s story on school libraries.

ALA President Camila Alire will be interviewed on NPR and the PBS News Hour. NPR Marketplace also did a story on libraries.

The AP picked up two stories on the Bookcart Drill Team. The Washington Post has been onsite throughout the Conference.

There have been 991 hits on ALA Annual Conference since June 1, equaling $672,000 worth of publicity.


Diane R. Chen, ALA Executive Board Liaison, updated the Public Awareness Committee on the activities of the ALA Executive Board at the ALA Annual Conference.