Guide to Building Support for Your Tribal Library

Guide to Building Support for your Tribal Library

A toolkit for getting the support you need from people who are in a position to help you and the library.

Getting Started with an Official Campaign: Steps to Success

Making your case for support is all about getting organized and focused.The best way to do that is to keep it simple.

  • Identify what you want. Is it a new building? More computers? Funding for cultural programs? The more specific you can be, the better.
  • Gather statistics. It’s easier to make your case when you can prove that you need support. Librarians must be able to make the case that materials and space can be shared without detriment.  Statistics regarding visitors and circulation, computer use, etc. are crucial to demonstrating the need for library services.
  • Build your team. You will need a core group of supporters to help strategize. Try to find people who both believe in the library and are well connected in the community. Start with your library’s biggest fans—your users. Your team could consist of other tribal libraries that are working to achieve a similar goal.
  • Make an action plan. The plan is your roadmap to success. It should identify key strategies and tasks (outreach, publicity, fundraising, volunteers, etc.), deadlines, and budget.
  • Identify strategies. How will you deliver the message to the people you want to reach? Who will deliver it? Your action plan should identify specific strategies, a timetable and who is responsible.
  • Have a memorable message. You will need a simple, powerful message, one that is easy to say and remember—about 10 words. Use it consistently in publicity materials and presentations. The more you use it, the more likely people are to “get it” and act. Examples: “Our heritage can be revitalized and preserved at the tribal library”; “The tribal library brings us together”
    • Target your audiences. Identify those whose support is most critical and make them your highest priority. Tribal leaders, parents, educators, and elders are typical target audiences for tribal libraries. Don’t forget to include your internal audiences: staff, board members, and volunteers.
    • Encourage everyday advocacy. Make an ongoing effort to keep your community informed of how the library contributes and what it needs to provide the best possible service. It is much easier to win support when key officials and community members understand its importance and are enthusiastic. Take advantage of everyday opportunities to talk about the library.
    • Collaborate. Getting other tribal departments/offices and other libraries to lend their support will strengthen your library’s case. Successful partnerships with other tribal departments can not only enhance library programs, but can also boost the library’s image within the tribe. The support for the library can swell when employees in other departments realize the positive impact libraries can have throughout the tribe. Libraries with similar goals, such as other tribal libraries, can band together to make a stronger case on larger advocacy issues such as at the state and national levels.

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