BCLTA header

Ideas and Resources for Trustees

Advocacy is about making sure that libraries are valued, supported and connected to the community. As trustees we know that libraries are a vital part of peoples’ lives. We know that they provide well-used and invaluable services, community enrichment and lifelong learning. But libraries can also be taken for granted.

Advocacy can be as simple as talking about the library with your neighbours and leaders in the community. And it can be as deliberate as designing an advocacy plan for your library board that involves meetings with government decision-makers and the development of advocacy strategies around specific issues (such as gaining support for a new facility or program).

This section includes information and ideas for election advocacy, as well as links to other resources.

Election Strategies


Elections, whether they are local, provincial or federal offer unique opportunities to advocate for public libraries. For trustees it may be the single greatest opportunity to increase awareness about this important community service both in its successes and its challenges.  At election time, at forums and through the media, trustees can:

  • Reach large numbers of the public through questions to candidates and personal contactDetermine candidate vision, knowledge and support for public librariesRaise the profile of individual trustees and Boards through their participation in the election processAcknowledge the commitment to/record of government regarding public libraries
  • Provide those running for office with current information regarding public libraries
Question(ing) Guidelines:  

Please consider the following as suggestions for developing a framework for your particular approach. Try to take the “high road”.  As the next election is provincial, a number of questions arise from the Strategic Plan, which is a document of the provincial government. It may be helpful to reference questions to documents (or parts of) whether they be provincial or local.  Focus on the candidate’s realm of responsibility, i.e. – a facilities problem may not apply to an MLA. Designate individual trustees to ask specific questions. Have copies of “Libraries without Walls” (or parts of) available and offer to provide pertinent information.



Sample Questions:

(These relate to the Principles in “Libraries with out Walls”)

  1. Regarding free access to core services and information for all British Columbians, what is your stand? If this is not the case in your area you could ask what the candidate is willing to do about it.

    Do you agree that 100% of British Columbians should have equitable access to information? This leads to an opportunity to highlight fulfilling this belief due to funding levels in particular situations.

    Regarding collaboration, Library Federations (where non-existent) are being encouraged. Do you support this move?  How?

    Funding – This might be an opportunity to commend the government for it’s financial commitment to the implementation of the Strategic Plan. Outline local funding structure (and adequacy/inadequacy of) and ask what should be done to improve the local situation.

    The Strategic Plan encourages Boards to pursue additional fund-raising activities. Do you agree? It is suggested that Boards partner with the private sector, and/or NGO’s and other library organizations. Do you see any issues (i.e. – advertising) arising from such an initiative? Could this lessen a government’s responsibility to adequately fund public libraries?  Where does this leave small communities that lack corporate presence?

  2. Library Boards should remain autonomous? Agree or disagree? Why? 

Other Questions:

  1. British Columbia presently has four different types of organizations that are legal in governing its public libraries. Would you propose changes to the Act regarding this? Please substantiate your stand.

  2. What do you see as an MLA’s role in promoting public libraries?

 Now it’s you turn!


  • Have as many trustees as possible attend election (all candidates’) forums. If a forum isn’t being organized then take the initiative to organize one, especially if there are political decisions upcoming regarding your libraryHave a list of questions prepared to use at forums or other opportunities for getting responses, to your issues, from candidates Invite candidates to a regular or special board meeting Indicate to the media that you would like them to get responses to library issues included in interviews for newspapers, radio, or T.V.
  • Encourage “library minded” people to run for officeSupport a “get out and vote” campaign.

Information and Resources on Library Advocacy

BCLTA’s Trustee Orientation Program — Advocacy Unit 6

Beyond Words — Stories about BC Libraries
This initiative, which is co-sponsored by BCLTA, is collecting stories about how libraries have changed the lives of British Columbians through a province-wide contest. The stories will be posted on the Beyond Words website, for use by libraries in their advocacy work.

Canadian Library Association — Library Advocacy NOW!

Alberta Library Trustees’ Association — Online Advocacy Workshop

Public Library Association’s “@ your library” campaign
This campaign has been developed for American public libraries. It includes a number of useful advocacy tools, ideas and messages for public libraries in any jurisdiction.

Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library
An initiative of the Public Library Association, this campaign focuses on the library’s role in early childhood development. It includes wonderful resources on the importance of libraries in supporting early literacy, and ready-to-use advocacy materials.

British Columbia Public Libraries Statistics (including information on overall library use in the province, and within your municipality).

Clearing House >>
Municipal World
Municipal World is the oldest continuously published monthly municipal magazine in the world. Founded in 1891, the magazine is devoted to promoting effective municipal government. This site features important information about local government, details about Municipal World's products and services, and links to other local government resources. Library Advocacy Now!


British Columbia Library Trustees Association
PO Box 4334, Station Terminal
Vancouver BC V6B 3Z7
Tel: (604) 913-1424 Fax: (604) 913-1413
Email:bclta @ bclta.org
 © 2005 BCLTA Site Design and Maintenance by ThinkHelp.com