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.

Sample Message Sheet

Key Message
“Books bring the world to the reservation”

Talking Points

The tribal library is a community gathering place where people come to learn, connect, and read. 


  • It’s the only place on the reservation where people of all ages go to learn and enjoy.
  • We introduce children to the joy of reading and help with their homework.
  • We have brought the Internet to the community, making the library the only place on the reservation where families can freely connect to loved ones far away.

We are missing out on serving a portion of the reservation who most need us—very young children, the homebound, elderly, and those without transportation to the library. (Problem)

  • The Headstart program does not have a regular story time or ways for the children to check out books.
  • Our location is not near any neighborhoods or other tribal offices. People on foot are very unlikely to come to the library.
  • Elders and their caretakers often aren’t able to leave their homes for reading material.

We have a plan to bring books to people in isolated areas (Solution) 

  • We will schedule time at the Head Start to bring story-time and books to the children there. 
  • We will deliver books to people’s homes, the community hall, and the Elder Care Home on a regular basis.


  • Since we moved to our new location, our average number of books checked out have dropped from ??? books per month to ??? per month.
  • ??% of our people live outside of the 5 mile radius surrounding our library
  • ?? number of our children, or ??%, attend Head Start


Sally Mae, who was taking care of her grandma at home last year said that oftentimes, the Meals on Wheels delivery person was her lifeline—providing her with not only meals for her elder, but also brought books and magazines that she could read to her grandma and for herself. Sally said that a regular book delivery service would have been very much appreciated at that time of great need.

Call to Action
“We need your support.”

•  We have an opportunity to apply for a grant to buy a delivery vehicle, for maintenance, and to
     build the lending collection.
•  We’ll need the tribe to support this program in the long-run
•  We ask that you support a mobile library for our reservation.

Basic Tools

Annual Report
A basic tool for telling your library’s story, it should be brief, attractive and reinforce the library’s key message. Make sure it gets into the hands of tribal government officials, funders and other key stakeholders.

Business Card
Don’t forget the obvious. Be sure to include the library’s URL and hours. Give it out as often as you can.

Another medium to publicize the library with basic information (hours, location, and URL). An attractive brochure should catch the eye of the public.

Communication Plan
A plan will help you get a bigger bang for your buck. Elements are: goals, objectives, positioning, key message, target audiences, strategies for delivering the message and evaluation.

Fact Sheet
A good way to present key points quickly. Keep narrative to a minimum. Use bullets to highlight key facts/statistics. Shorter is better—no more than two pages. Use with tribal officials, community groups, reporters or anyone who wants information—fast.

News Release
Newspapers and other media welcome a well written news release and will often run it “as is.”  Start with the most important information and end with the least. Be sure to cover the 5Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why)—and H (How). Keep it short—one page if possible.

Public Service Announcement
Free space for ads may be available from local newspapers and radio stations. Ask about availability and guidelines.

Both can be useful tools for providing timely information, especially to those who might not come into the library. The trick is to keep them simple and current. You might consider utilizing social networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, to keep people informed about the library.

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