Often people think of advocacy when there are looming funding cuts or a change in government, but advocacy is more than that -- it's a continuous commitment to building relationships and connections with decision makers and stakeholders in order to ensure individuals have equitable access to information. It's collecting and telling the stories of how people are impacted by and value the library and its services. 

More specifically, municipal advocacy efforts are a year-round undertaking. In order to be successful in maintaining or increasing municipal funding of libraries, councils and municipal administrators need to fully understand the value of libraries in their communities. There is an opportunity for regions to support their member libraries with advocacy materials, messaging and training for library managers. It is acknowledged that ALTA has a role to play in preparing trustees to advocate on behalf of their boards.

The Systems Advocacy Committee has created these resources for use when you are speaking with your local elected officials. Documents are included below for your reference.

General Advocacy Topics

Last year, the Systems Advocacy Committee created a handout that speaks about the role and value of libraries to people in the community. Library boards should also refer to their respective municipality’s strategic plan priorities, and identify how libraries help municipalities achieve their goals.

Common Issues:

Board Member Recruitment

Issue: How to recruit active, engaged board members.

Ask yourself:

  • Is your board trying to recruit new members?
  • What skill/experience gaps exist on your board that you could fill with new members?
  • Have you struggled in the past to attract and retain engaged board members?
  • Do your board members understand their roles and responsibilities? Does your library have a robust orientation program for new board members?

Click on the following links for access to resources, templates, and information regarding Board Member Recruitment.

Municipal Funding

Issue: Potential cuts to library operating funds with the expectation that libraries will use reserves for operations.

Ask yourself:

  • Using reserve funds for operations is a short-term strategy. What happens the year after this is used in terms of funding? How does the library cope with inflation and other increased costs?
  • Using reserves means these funds are not available for capital improvements or repairs. How will libraries deal with these emergent requirements?

Click on the following links for access to resources, templates to use, and information regarding Municipal Funding.

Relations Between Library Boards & Municipal Council/Administration

Issue: How to foster and engage understanding that one doesn’t report to the other, libraries are not municipal departments and have a range of funding streams (Provincial, Municipal, fundraising, sponsorship, fees, etc.) 

Ask yourself:

  • How can board members strengthen the relationship between library boards and municipal councils/administrations?
  • How is your library helping to deliver on municipal priorities? (e.g. economic development, youth and senior programs, etc.) Why is this important?
  • What tactics can be used to illustrate the value that libraries deliver for the community? (e.g. informational graphics, short videos, etc.) 

Click on the following link for access to resources for Relations Between Library Boards & Municipal Council/Administration.

The Libraries Act

Issue: Understanding the Libraries Act and its implications for board members and municipal councils.

Library board members play a crucial role in setting policy and governance for libraries, and ensuring that services meet the needs of the community

Ask yourself:

  • What is the role of library board members with respect to making decisions about the library? What is the role of the library manager?
  • How does the Libraries Act describe the autonomy of library boards? What financial autonomy do library boards have?

Click on the following links for access to resources, templates to use, and information regarding The Libraries Act.

Additional Advocacy Resources

We have compiled useful resources for public libraries that will assist you with your advocacy efforts in upcoming elections, in your day-to-day exchanges with patrons, the communities you serve, and so much more.

The seven library systems in Alberta wish to raise awareness about library funding issues in advance of the October 2027 provincial general election. While most funding comes directly from municipalities, Provincial library funding is critically important as well. Here you will find access to the how-to guide to create awareness of the value of libraries to people in Alberta, and to seek a commitment from provincial candidates to support libraries through increased funding. 

As well, you now have access to the new campaign, Libraries Value Beyond Words brochure. This document can be printed and shared with patrons and community members or shared digitally. 

Lastly is the Libraries Value Beyond Words logo, which you are welcome to use as you see fit, whether it's an addition to your professional signature in emails, on your letterhead for print documents, or in promotional materials in and out of the library. 

To access any of the aforementioned resources to use in your library and community, see the list below and feel free to share.


Library Advocacy Now! A Training Program for Public Library Staff and Trustees (2011) (PDF)
In 2011, the Canadian Library Association created this workbook that contains of wealth of information, approaches and templates.

Library Toolshed Advocacy Resources
A selection of training resources and conference presentations on advocacy.

United States

Advocacy and Public Policy from American Library Association (ALA)
Advocacy from Public Library Association (PLA)
While ALA's and PLA's resources have an American focus, the messages, tools, training and educational resources provided are transferable to Canadian contexts.

Citizens Save Libraries Power Guide
A resource from United for Libraries, a division of ALA, this site has free webinar recordings, such as "Responding to a Budget Crisis," as well as a step-by-step guide for developing an advocacy campaign, including examples for talking points and information sheets. American focus, but transferable to Canadian libraries.

Frontline Advocacy Toolkit
A resource from from ALA, this provides practical tools and information for frontline staff to advocate for the value of libraries on a daily basis.

Turning the Page: Supporting Libraries, Strengthening Communities 
Developed by the Public Library Association, it offers an advocacy training curriculum for those looking for information, ideas and inspiration.


Communicating Data Using Different Types of Data for Storytelling & Advocacy
ALA's Data Pathways project was developed for library staff to become data competent. There are many different competencies to explore, but this links to training and information for data skills associated with advocacy.

The Data Visualisation Catalogue
You want to have effective visuals for your advocacy documentation, choose the best one to communicate to your audience with this website.

YRL's Advocacy YouTube playlist
We've compiled useful videos for you to watch, including recorded webinars and instructions on using social media.