5. Identify and evaluate local notables
Who are your local notables, and who is a good match for your library?
You’ve spent time looking at your community. You’ve identified issues that are important to its members. You’ve got a good understanding of all the ways your library addresses these issues, and you’ve developed some engaging and eye-catching messages. You’ve now reached the step where you can think about which local notables or celebrities can most effectively deliver your messages. It’s time to tie the message and the face together.
Pull your Local Notables Committee together and develop categories of local notables and celebrities. Maybe some of your best-known people have names and faces that grace book jackets or CD covers, movie posters or the media. Maybe they’ve always lived in your community; maybe they moved there in recent years; or maybe they grew up there (and presumably frequented the library) but now live elsewhere.
However, don’t worry if you have no card-carrying celebrities in your community because you have other local notables who matter, as the categories you created illustrate. They are people from many walks of life who are front and center of the activities and values that define your community. They are your local movers and shakers. What they have in common is that they are all individuals who are known and respected, whose association with your library is desirable. Are they authors or illustrators? Journalists or media personalities? Sports stars? Musicians, artists or dancers? Actors or directors? Civic leaders? Beloved teachers or professors? Famous graduates? Your high school or college football team or cheerleaders? Everyone’s favorite mail carrier? The owner of the local ice cream shop? Think creatively and have fun putting this list together!
It is not enough to identify individuals who will be recognizable and appropriate advocates for your library. They must be appropriate spokespeople for the advocacy messages you want delivered. There must also be compelling reasons why certain people are the best choices to step forward, lend their name and face, and speak out for your library’s support.
Who are your most appealing choices? Who can you logically connect with your library and its resources and services? Develop an ‘A List’ and a ‘B List’ with first and second choices so you have a fallback plan if your first choices decline your invitation. This toolkit can help you develop the best list possible. Get started with the tool Identifying Your Local Notables (PDF)/ Identifying Your Local Notables (Word doc).
After you’ve completed that list, the next step will be to drill deeper and really evaluate everyone on it. Answer ten very important questions about each person to determine whether you have a list of winners, or whether anyone should be removed from your list. Ten Make-or-Break Questions to Ask Yourself (PDF)/ Ten Make-or-Break Questions to Ask Yourself (Word doc).