3. Citizen Support- Rallying Stakeholders Around the Library

It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t believe in libraries.  Getting people to raise their voices in support of the library is another story.  Rallying stakeholder support is a powerful tool in passing library budgets, keeping libraries open and keeping a library’s value to the community highly visible.

There are several ways to bring individual citizens and constituent groups out in support of the library and plenty of things stakeholders can do to apply critical pressure on the library’s behalf.

  • Grassroots advocacy efforts are one of the oldest and most effective tools for persuading decision-makers.  Libraries of all sizes should have Advocacy Committees made up of citizens from every neighborhood.
  • The Advocacy Committee should meet with the Library Director and be educated on all aspects of the library’s budget, library needs, the budgeting cycle and all of the library’s sources of funding.  An advocate who knows what they’re talking about is really powerful.
  • Anyone speaking in public on the library’s behalf should have talking points and fast facts about the library and its budget needs. 
  • Supporting the library’s budget isn’t just the task of an Advocacy Committee.  Library supporters from all neighborhoods should be encouraged to attend public meetings and budget hearings and, if appropriate, give testimony.
  • Central and branch libraries should post notices about budget hearings and public meetings that focus on library issues.
  • Even if citizens don’t speak at public meetings, their presence is valuable.  A self-identified group of library supporters carries a strong message: “I’m a library supporter…and I vote.”  This is what decision-makers need to see and hear.
  • Buttons abound…libraries across the country have developed buttons for getting their message across.  Wearing a button that tells anyone and everyone that you are a library supporter spreads the word quickly and pervasively.
  • Constituent groups served by the library can form a strong advocacy group.  Teenagers who use the library for homework help can learn about the civic process by testifying on their library’s behalf, or by meeting with their elected official (make sure they’re prepared!).  Seniors who view the library as the go-to place for life-long learning are often eager to speak up for the library.  New Americans have powerful, emotional stories to tell about how the library impacts their lives and the importance of supporting the library’s budget.
  • Working with the media is another powerful tool to encourage support of a library’s budget.   Press releases, Letters to the Editor, Op-Ed pieces focusing on facts and impact are great ways to garner support for the library and its needs.
  • Choose well-known, respected community leaders to write or speak on the library’s budget.  (For an excellent example of “two mayors” speaking on behalf of a library’s budget, read the Viewpoints article from the Saint Paul Pioneer Press (PDF).
  • Keeping information about the library and how it supports the community should be an ongoing priority…not just when the budget is on the table. 

4. Making the Budget Presentation- Do's & Dont's

Budget Presentations Homepage