3.4.c Crafting Your Message

Crafting Your Message
1. Think about your goal and objectives. What are the most important words and ideas that emerged?

2. Make your message really easy to remember. Does the library media center have an ongoing message? Is there a new message? Can you reduce it to 10-15 words in your brain? “Homework help boosts learning, grades and academic success.” “Volunteering in the school library builds competence and confidence.” Most messages can be boiled down in just this way.

Don’t think only about what the message means to your library (“Increasing student volunteers means that library staff spends less time shelving books.”). Think about what the message means for your students and staff (“Increasing student volunteers provides a unique opportunity for learning and service and frees library staff to assist users.”)

3. Come up with some “talking points.” This is where you can use the data your library and school collects. Using the previous example (concerns about cutting library hours) your talking points should include:
  • Some statistics about your library media center’s use (who, how, when).
  • The impact on users (students, parents, teachers and other school staff) when you face a shortage of student volunteers. Be specific, use your data. Click on a useful tool, Put Your Data to Work for Your A Team [3.4.c.1] for some ideas about using statistics to help convey your library’s message.
  • Consider a personal story here.
  • If your message is about a need, explain what the library would like to see happen and what the listener can do to help.   
4. Have a “parking lot” or “grocery store” speech ready. This is a very short statement that can literally be communicated during the brief time you’re walking to the parking lot in the company of a student, school staff member or parent, or when you bump into a parent in the grocery store . When appropriate, invite the listener to get involved.

Here are two examples:

“We’ve had more second graders students move from picture books to ready-to-read books this year than ever before, and their test scores went up 20%.”

“Have you heard that we’re trying to create an after-school homework help center in the school library with volunteer tutors and extra computers. If you think this is something our students can really use, please help us communicate that to the rest of the school.”

Click on Your Parking Lot Speech [3.4.c.2] if you would like help with this.