ALA President Roberta Stevens's Why I Need My Library Video Contest

Why I Need My Library


ALA President Roberta Stevens recently launched The Why I Need My Library video contest,  which offers teens ages 13-18 the opportunity to win up to $3,000 for their public or school library.  The contest seeks to engage young library advocates and asks them to create short, original videos on why they think libraries are needed now more than ever.  Roberta recently answered a few quick questions about the contest and her thoughts on why it’s essential that libraries engage teens in this kind of advocacy activity.  ALA President Roberta Stevens


Q:  Tell us why you why you elected to focus on a contest for young people as part of your ALA Presidential Initiative efforts?


A:  Building support for libraries is the focus of all three of my Presidential initiatives: "Our Authors, Our Advocates," "Frontline Fundraising" and the "Why I Need My Library Contest." Millions of young people use school and local public libraries every day. The contest is an opportunity to hear their powerful voices on the critical role libraries are playing in their communities.


Q:  How and why do you feel social media, like YouTube, can be a powerful tool for library advocacy?


A:  The reach of social media, and YouTube in particular, is immediate, inexpensive and effective.  I thought it would be a way to unleash the creativity of teens and share their messages. Libraries can also take the videos and include them on their websites! I'd love to have the contest's videos go viral and build nationwide support for libraries.


Q:  What do you hope librarians and teen library users will gain from participating in the Why I Need My Library contest?


A:  I hope they will take advantage of the contest to share ideas and information, get to know each other better, and develop mutual respect and appreciation for each other. The contest should be fun for both participants and librarians.


Q:  If a fourteen-year-old asked you for the top three reasons why the Library is an essential service for teenagers, what would you say?


A:  Your Library is a place to connect with other teenagers and with library staff who are dedicated to helping you enjoy this time in your life and get prepared for your future. At your Library, you can enter a world far beyond where you live. You'll discover new things about yourself and interests you never knew you had.


Q:  In an era of tightening budgets a cash award, like the prizes that are a part of the Why I Need My Library contest, is a strong motivation for many librarians to participate and work with their teens to participate in a contest.  What motivational words can you offer to go along with the cash award to anyone considering creating and submitting a video for this contest?


A:  For librarians working with teenagers, the cash awards can permit them to provide services or programs that might not have been possible with their existing funding. For the teens developing a winning video, there is the great sense of satisfaction by being able to make a financial contribution. It's nice to do something good for something in life that you value. Plus donors get recognition!


Complete details about the contest can be found at

The deadline for submitting videos is April 18th

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