We all know that libraries are busier than ever, providing incredible service in these challenging economic times. What if libraries went away, even for a day? What would the impact be on our state and the people we serve? What would happen if there were no libraries?
The New Jersey State Library and the New Jersey Library Association held two “Snapshot Days” in 2009 and the statistics, photographs and stories gathered on those two dates have provided us with indisputable proof that libraries consistently provide invaluable services to our community.
The idea for “Snapshot Day” emanated from the “Libraries Transform Lives Task Force,” instituted by Norma Blake, New Jersey State Librarian. The 40 members of this task force comprised librarians from all over New Jersey and from all types of libraries. Task force members met each month to brainstorm and generate ideas to demonstrate libraries’ worth in these tough economic times.
We wanted to come up with a simple, effective method to capture all the ways that libraries offer vital services every single day. We decided that we would ask library staff to document in statistics, stories and photographs “a day in the life” of their library. We knew that we could take this data and aggregate it and come up with powerful statistics that would show the positive impact libraries have on community members in every part of our state on a daily basis.
Participants have used the results of “Snapshot Day” to advocate with their mayors and council members, have published reports in their local newspapers and newsletters, and have shared statistics with their “Friends of the Library” members and other stakeholders.
The New Jersey State Library created a poster celebrating “Snapshot Day” activities and sent the poster and a letter describing the day’s activities to each and every New Jersey legislator