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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Year-Long Proposition

The dust is settling. The new budget maintains the funding level of 2018 for the Personnel Incentive Grants, MAGNOLIA, and MLC operations, as well as funding to cover the health insurance premium increase for public librarians. The reality that libraries can face the coming year with a huge sigh of relief on a state funding level is just being recognized. This hasn't been our reality for the last couple of tumultuous years. This relief is thanks, in part, to a tremendous amount of hard work by so many people. Library supporters, library directors, legislators, local funding authorities, and so many more who heeded the call and spoke up for the needs of libraries across Mississippi...Thinking this is a time to step back and revel in a hard-fought effort is correct, but only for a moment. Now is the time to be thankful. Reach out to those who supported this effort. Make sure everyone who had a part in this victory knows what it means and how it will affect things moving forward. Speak up about how invaluable the efforts were and how library service will be affected for all Mississippi communities.

It will soon be time to get busy again. Do not think advocacy efforts will wait until January. This job is a year-long proposition. Here are just a few ideas to get started:
  • Take photos of an activity in your library; email them to your legislators with a note letting them know that level funding helped make the event a reality.
  • Send invitations to local and state lawmakers to all of your events.
  • Send stories to your newspapers about an exciting program so news about your library will be in print for lawmakers to read.
  • Invite a local radio station out to your summer library program and ask them to broadcast live from the event. Give a shout-out on the air to your legislators and thank them for their support.
There are so many ways to keep advocacy efforts going all year long. The ultimate goal will be that when legislators head to the capitol in January, they will have a clear picture of the value of public libraries across Mississippi.

Thank you all for all your diligent efforts. Your hard work paid off, and we all can move forward with a little less fearful anticipation. Now jot down March 12, 2019 on your calendar; that's the date of next year's Library Day at the Capitol. Decide now what you can do each month between now and then to advocate for libraries and take action. Let's be even more prepared for 2019!

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