Advocate in 2008 – Wait, don’t tune me out!

January 6, 2008 at 10:01 pm

You might think this doesn’t really apply to you, or that it won’t really affect you, or (most likely) that you do care but you don’t have time for it . . . but the truth is, we all must be advocates for libraries all the time, especially here in NJ, and what better time than 2008?

2008 provides us with the easily rhyme-able number 8 and is a “great” year that provides us with many ways to call for action:

Advocate in ’08!
Be Great in ’08!
Communicate in ’08!
Demonstrate in ’08!

Personally, I really love all of these, but we have to do much more than just come up with cute rhyming mottoes.

I know you have been bombarded with information about contacting Governor Corzine’s office to request that the New Jersey Knowledge Initiative (NJKI) be fully funded. As you probably know, NJKI was funded for $3 million dollars. Then, it lost $1 million of it’s funding. If it isn’t fully funded we will lose it on February 29. BUT PLEASE, stick with me here.

By now, you have all seen this:

Special Message from New Jersey Knowledge Initiative staff:
“Access to RefUSA (and other databases) may end on February 29, 2008 due to a cut in state funding for the NJ Knowledge Initiative. To help keep this resource for NJ, please call Governor Corzine’s office at (609) 292-6000 and ask that the Knowledge Initiative be fully funded for 2008.”

You might not think it really matters if you call. You may think this really isn’t your fight – that this is for the State Library and for NJLA and Pat Tumulty and others to do. Well, this IS all of our fight and making a phone call DOES matter and only takes literally about two minutes.

You pick up your phone and dial the number. Someone answers. You literally say, “I am calling to request that the Knowledge Initiative be fully funded.” The person says okay I’ll put down the message. You say thank you and hang up. THAT IS IT. I’m not kidding. I don’t mean to be condescending, but sometimes it is the simplest things that we don’t do.

For those of you who have placed the call, and I know there are many of you, thank you! I also appreciate everyone who has echoed my testimony that this is a very quick and simple thing to do.

Does it matter if you do this or not? Well, yes. They are counting all the calls. I personally have always believed that one person can make a difference. I can’t promise that your call will be the one to put us over the top, or that this phone campaign will definitely work, but I personally would feel terrible if I didn’t call at least once and we lost the New Jersey Knowledge Initiative.

Do you know what NJKI is?

There is information here. There is also an article from the Daily Targum that is very informative here. Also, SJRLC Connections provides a lot of good information. You can find information from NJLA and the New Jersey State Library.

You might think if you don’t work in or use an academic library, a special library, a scientific or business environment or governmental agency that this doesn’t matter. If you work in a public library, you probably use and know the popularity and value of at least ReferenceUSA. If you work in a school library you may not use the resources of the NJKI. Does this mean you don’t need to call? No, saying that this isn’t a resource you use and so you can ignore these pleas is like the old refrain, “First they came for the Communists, but I wasn’t a Communist so I did nothing.” We all know how that ends. (I know, it’s controversial and possibly incorrect, but….you get my meaning here.)

Now, I am not picking on school libraries – many school library staff have called, and this may sound extreme, but if we do not learn how to, and commit to, doing a better job of speaking up about our value, we literally will not be around anymore.

Even after this NJKI challenge passes – whether we win or lose – there will always be other issues to face. Please think about the ways in which you can become a true advocate for libraries in 2008.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to say Celebrate in ’08 and beyond!


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