Oakland and NYC: Sister Cities

One of my favorite experiences at ALA Annual’s 2012 Convention was presenting with Save Oakland Libraries and my fellow Urban Librarians Unite-er Lauren Comito at the How to Save Your Library: Advocating on Multiple Fronts during Economic Crisis panel.

During NYC’s budget woes, I had remembered hearing quite a bit about similar struggles in Oakland, CA. While I was dismayed to hear about other library workers suffering through this difficult matter, I was proud that other librarians were fighting back against proposed cuts, layoffs and closures. Meeting the librarians behind the Oakland budget fight was an amazing experience. Sometimes, when you’re advocating your librarian butt off, you feel like you’re the only person in the world who is struggling. I felt an instant camaraderie between Urban Librarians Unite and Save Oakland Libraries. They knew what it was like to love your job and your library and yet be faced with losing both.

I was afraid we wouldn’t have much attendance: Many people have already left the convention by Monday afternoon AND I wasn’t sure other people wouldn’t be so interested in hearing about our advocacy budget efforts (especially if they hadn’t experienced anything like it themselves). Well, I was wrong. We had a fantastic audience and a nearly full house. It was gratifying to hear from librarians from all over the states who had successfully saved their libraries from closures, layoffs, and outsourcing.

An insider’s view of our PowerPoint presentation. Sadly, the glitter had to be nixed at the last second.  We had to settle with it merely being pink. :sigh: #librarianworldproblems

Not to worry. Lauren doesn’t typically look this silly. I asked her to make a “look like you’re working hard” face.
Save Oakland Libraries: Amy Martin (of the rad hair) and Peter Villasenor. Not pictured, the amazing Helen Bloch.
Don’t you love Save Oakland Libraries’ advocacy poster? It’s so warm and colorful.
I can’t resist a screenshot, clearly. I don’t like the way I look in this picture at all, but I am more proud of the work we did than I am vain.
Lauren and me proudly wearing our adorable Oakland Libraries stickers, seen closer…

Though Oakland and NYC are on opposite parts of the country, we have some similar tactics for dealing with budget cuts. We both did Zombie Walks, Read-Ins, and appealed to families. One idea that I want to steal from them next year if we’re in the same budget position (Haha! What do I mean “if”? I’M HILARIOUS!) is the Guerrilla Storytime. Both groups agreed that you have to find a way to have fun with your advocacy efforts or you’ll go totally insane.

So, did you attend our presentation? What did you think? Has your library dealt with budget cuts? How did you deal with it? Tell Miss Ingrid all about it.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

P.S. If your library is in a bad way, you should check out Save Oakland Library’s toolkit for some great ideas. FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!

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