CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Guide to Campaigning, Advocacy and Lobbying

How can CILIPS support me?

CILIP Scotland is happy to support you to advocate for your service by providing advice and evidence. We will also respond to consultations or write to any Council or organisations where cuts to library services or library staff is being proposed and where this will affect our members.

What can I do?

We have found that a local campaign can be the one of the most effective ways of influencing decision makers. This can take the form or a local campaign group or perhaps via organising a petition (there are a number of online sites that allow this functionality).

However, if you are a staff member there will usually be restrictions on doing this directly but if local residents can become active in their support of library services it can raise awareness and hopefully influence decision makers.

You can find a range of evidence in the pages of our recent campaign #LibrariesMatter

You can find information on legislation affecting libraries here.

You can read some of our responses to consultations here.

You can view a successful national petition here.

You can see what a local campaign might look like here and here.

Freedom of Information requests

Freedom of Information (FOI) requests can be a good way to find out statistics or information about your local library services. The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 came into force on the 1 January 2005 and gives everyone a legal right to request information held by a Scottish Public Authority. The act aims to increase openness and accountability across the public sector by ensuring that individuals have the right to access information held by Scottish Public Authorities. People are able to see and question how public bodies function and how decisions are made.

To place an FOI just look up your authority’s name and ‘Freedom of Information’ on a search engine and you should find a page with the e mail address needed.

What do Advocacy and Lobbying mean? 

Advocacy is about persuasion and influencing for change whereas lobbying is about making a case for political change and is targeted towards political representatives.  Lobbying and advocacy are key instruments for creating awareness of the value of professional skills and the importance of library and information services to society.

CILIPS recognises that many of our members are keen to engage with their political representatives or support other to do so when issues of concern arise.  As an organisation we also understand that politicians are likely to give more attention to approaches from a concerned constituent than from an organisation because they are sensitive to the opinion of their electorate.

Anyone can lobby but members should be aware that some employers may place restrictions on lobbying activity. So make sure you have checked your terms of employment and any guidance issued by your employer before you start and that you represent yourself at all times as a private individual/CILIPS member.

Who do I lobby?

First, you need to identify the level of government you need to lobby.  If you are lobbying on a local issue, you need to know what the responsibilities of  your Council are. If the Council doesn’t have the power to resolve the issue, you need to know what responsibilities have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament, and which have been reserved by the UK Parliament. So you will be approaching a Councillor, an MSP, MP or, for some issues, an MEP. Know who represents you at all levels of Government.

Members who live in Scotland are represented at Westminster by their MP and by Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) based in Edinburgh.

Members who live in Scotland have one constituency MSP and 7 regional MSPs.  Both MSPs and regional MSPs have a duty to represent you.

You can find out the name of your MP, constituency  MSP and regional MSPs  by visiting:

Elected Council representatives can usually be found on the relevant  website for the local authority.

How can a MSP help?

MSPs can help by:

  • Tabling questions to government
  • Meeting or writing to Ministers
  • Initiating debates and putting forward your views in other forums e.g. committees

Preparing to lobby

Political representatives value information from constituents presented in a concise way so your lobbying will be most effective if you prepare in advance.  Draw up a  list of the key points you want to get across, and make sure you address all of them.

Gather evidence to support your points

  • Research
  • Extracts from relevant official documents

How to lobby

Write a brief letter and include:

Your contact details;

A clear heading identifying the subject you want to address;

An initial paragraph introducing yourself and the issue;

Use examples and evidence;

End the letter with a question so that the MSP has to send a reply rather than a simple acknowledgement

Ask for a meeting

Identify yourself as a constituent and ask for a meeting with your  representative;

Prepare your case in advance;

Be clear about what you are asking them to do;

Be positive, concise and clear about what you are asking them to do;

Highlight an issue and suggest a solution;

Leave the representative with written information to ensure s/he has a record of the points you have raised;

Afterwards send them a note of thanks and keep CILIPS informed of the meeting and the points discussed in case there is any follow up activity needed from us.

Whether you write to your representative or meet them keep in touch – – try and develop your relationships with them by keeping them informed of any recent development

Meaningful engagement

Ask yourself:

Can you link the issue to a personal experience or a situation in the politician’s constituency?

Have you checked whether your representative has spoken on the same or a similar issue previously?

Are you making an effort to get to know your representative by attending meetings and asking questions on issues that concern you?

Are you using terms or abbreviations that may be unfamiliar to a politician – avoid acronyms

Examples of Campaigns

Parents, pupils, and staff signed postcards that will be sent to the local authority to protest the replacement of three secondary school librarians with volunteers, pupils, and self service machines by the Scottish Borders Council. Read the full story here.