Discussion group ffacilitated by Cheryl Bryan from Southeast Massachusetts Library System beginning with introduction of the PLA advocacy toolkit. The toolkit is a road map to present your library effectively to your community. There is a difference between public relations, advocacy and marketing. Marketing involves a transaction-such as increase circulation. Public relations is networking. Advocacy is getting the vote out.
Who needs to advocate: Everyone-staff, trustees, volunteers, and patrons. Remember one negative comment is usually repeated twenty times. Libraries need to really look at partnering with other organizations.
Passion is important when advocating for your library. Go over this toolkit with your board and staff so they are informed and passionate about it as well. Speak to the heart. What a value the library is to the community. Cheryl suggest “treating everyone you meet at the library as if you may be the only person they see that day-you may be”.
With the current economy-loss of jobs-the library can step in working with partners to offer help to job seekers. Look at your demographics. Use www.zipskinny.com Define savings and benefits to the community for each service. Target your advocacy. Don’t forget to ask exactly what you are looking for from those you are targeting. Have a sense of who you are talking to.
Strategies: match with your audience. Develop talking points. Ask staff what questions they are getting-make sure they have talking points to these questions.
Evaluate at the end of your effort-what/where worked-important
The toolkit may be purchased at: http://www.alastore.ala.org/SiteSolution.taf?_sn=catalog2&_pn=product_detail&_op=2403
$100 – ALA members $90
What are others doing:
Suggestions for how to handle increase in budget request: Put petition on front desk. Focus on having a credible informed speaker. Keep in mind that many library supports are financially unable to support increases-we need to reach the non-library people as well. Acknowledge the economic times-make clear the benefits.
Suggestion: Do not overlook your local barbershops and hairdressers-that is where people are talking. Pinpoint where people are gathering and forming opinions in your community.
Shortfall Revenue: Not enough money coming in to support the community services. What do you do? Maybe it is good to advocate for the community as a whole-not just the library. Go to meetings-they talk and think differently when you are sitting in the room. Important-just show up!
Handouts from this workshop will be available on the NELA website.