We have to focus now, more than ever, on making the case for support of libraries. Today I heard several very disheartening stories from public libraries struggling with budget cuts, dealing with political officials that don't really understand the role of the library, and even supporters who spread misinformation about library goals. It can be difficult to stay motivated in some of these situations. We know how important libraries are and we appreciate the unique and fulfilling role they play in many people's lives.
We must let everyone know that libraries are meeting the essential needs of our communities, changing lives, and helping people every day in this tough economy. Libraries are part of the solution when a community is struggling economically. We must share the stories of how we help community members complete job applications, take online classes, find vital health information, access government resources, and learn to read. It is true that funding is limited, but there IS still funding available. Be ready to share why your library deserves support. And you must share not just with people that are using your services, but especially with those who don’t ever visit the library: the elected officials, the high income voters, the leaders in your communities, and the potential private funders. Contact the media, speak at local community meetings (neighborhood associations, rotary, PTA), have a booth at the farmer’s market or grocery store one week, set up meetings with local leaders, do whatever it takes to be visible.
The good news is that there are resources available to help you learn how to build relationships, gain super supporters, and secure funding. Here are three FREE helpful resources, all which have an emphasis on technology, do you know of others?
- PLA's Turning the Page 2.0 is a free public library advocacy training course developed and presented by the Public Library Association (PLA) with generous support from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This is a freeonline course that features blended learning and includes one-on-one feedback from skilled facilitators. Registration opens next week for the first of three more sessions.
- “Small but Powerful Guide to Winning Big Support for Your Rural Library” is a newly updated resource available from the ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services as a free print or digital edition. The advice in this toolkit is beneficial for a library of any size. There are great tips for advocacy, with a focus on gaining support for technology needs and how to use social media to spread your library message.
- The IMPACT Survey Pilot offered through the University of Washington, provides free evaluation and advocacy tools for measuring and communicating the impact of providing free access to computers and the Internet.