You’ve just waged an advocacy campaign. Maybe you feel it was successful, maybe it didn’t yield the results you had hoped for. Whatever the outcome, your job is not finished yet.
Again? Yes, communication is important at every stage of this process. Library users and others in the community need to know the final outcome of your budget reductions and understand how those reductions will impact them. Use the same methods of communication you used to get your advocacy message out, but this time use those methods to convey the outcome. Be sure people know if the library’s hours or services are changing.
Say “Thank You”
Whether the decision makers have left you smiling or frowning, you have many people to thank.
- Your staff. They should be your first priority. Your staff will have weathered a period of anxiety, possibly a long one, and might have had to accept a wage freeze, fewer paid hours or even been through the stress of layoffs. Let them know you appreciate them.
- Your Budget Response Team and other leaders. These individuals took the journey with you, and they gave generously of their time, energy, ideas, networks, and maybe even their financial resources.
- Your colleagues. Your library is part of a menu of community services, and the leadership in other departments is part of the same team you’re on. If your outcome is a good one, be sure they know how much you appreciate their cooperation and help.
- If your outcome brings you disappointment or resentment, put it aside for the sake of your staff and the integrity of your library.
- Your community. When any community faces cuts in essential services, it’s hard on everyone. They should be thanked for their support, patience and their continued patronage of your library and its services.
Develop an Ongoing Plan for Advocacy
Whether you’ve accepted your library’s budget cuts or challenged them, whether your outcome feels successful or disappointing, one fact remains: Your library needs an ongoing plan for advocacy. Don’t wait for a crisis to actively advocate for your library’s services! Advocacy should be a year-round effort that everyone on your staff participates in. Practice it every day and you’ll find that, when a crisis arises, advocacy comes easily and naturally.
- Everyone on your staff is a potential “frontline” advocate because they represent the library to many individuals, library users and nonusers alike. Help your staff think about and become comfortable with daily advocacy interactions. Check out ALA’s Frontline Advocacy Toolkits for practical, easy-to- adopt ideas for making frontline advocacy part of your library’s way of doing business. More ALA Frontline Advocacy tools and resources!
- Work with your Friends group, trustees/board, staff and the general public to ensure that the decision makers always know that the library is a vital part of any community. The library is a valuable asset that must be maintained in good times and bad.
- And don’t forget ALA - Advocacy University!
- Some libraries are trying to raise revenue to bridge budget gaps.
- Others are using new ways to garner community attention.
- Fresh library advocacy ideas (check out a cool new website!)
- Library advocacy success story!
- ALA updates information about library funding.
- Philadelphia advocacy campaign.
- New Jersey fights to save its libraries.
- Strategic planning for budget cuts. (PDF article)
- Quotable library facts for library advocates.