The Friends Win ALTAFF's 2009 Baker & Taylor Award

In 2009 the Friends were presented one of five national awards for excellence--the Baker & Taylor award. This award is given annually by the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF) to library Friends' groups for outstanding efforts to promote and support their libraries. The Friends were recognized for their advocacy efforts which resulted in $860,000 in additional funding for the library.

In the fall of 2008 The Seattle Public Library announced that it was facing a $1 million budget deficit for the 2009 fiscal year. At that point the Friends went into action, creating an advocacy platform based upon continual, year-round community awareness and grassroots support.

That winter the Friends plotted out a year-round advocacy plan in order to: 1) educate the Mayor and City Council on the value of the Library, and 2) build a base of community support.

To educate city officials The Friends, beginning in April 2009, began sending out monthly “NewsFlashes” to the Mayor and City Council members. These “NewsFlashes” were one-page monthly emails, focused on the following topics:

 Sarel Advocacy

Board member Sarel Rowe speaking at a Seattle City Council Budget Hearing.

•    The increased use of Libraries, particularly in a down economy
•    How free access to computers and job resources helps the community get back to work
•    How the Library is engaging teens via its Teen Center Advisors group
•    How libraries are assets to city neighborhoods
•    How libraries and schools work together to foster education

At the same time, in order to connect with and ultimately build community support for the Library, the Friends created their own blog and used social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to foster grassroots support for the Library. In order to illustrate how the Library was a point of influence for people throughout Seattle, between April and August of 2009, the Friends posted budgetary information in the “NewsFlashes” as well as survey results and personal testimonials from community members. As a result of their tireless advocacy during the spring and summer, the Friends' efforts were rewarded with over 3,000 supporters.

In September of that same year, when the Mayor announced his library budget for 2010, the efforts of the Friends paid off. Due to the Friends diligent work the City Council modified the Mayor’s budget and restored $860,000 in funding to the library.  

The Friends were deeply honored to be recognized for their efforts. The Friends continue to be a valuable community asset, not only because of the their ongoing education and awareness efforts around the value of our libraries, but also for the encouragement and community support provided to Library staff and administration.

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