Persuading people who are recognizable and respected to speak out for your library and its support should be part of your ongoing promotion of your library and its exceptional services. Keeping your library in the minds of your users and others, and keeping your messages fresh, will go a long way in fostering public support.
Chances are, your library hosts local notables or celebrities for book clubs, lectures, classes, programs, story hours and other events. Don’t let them walk out your door without asking for their help! At the very least, ask them for quotes about why they came to your library and what they were impressed by. Ask them for permission to use their quotes. Take photos of them while they’re in your library. Get their permission to use the photos to promote the kind of activity for which your library hosted them. Take special (posed) pictures that you can use (with their permission) for a specific advocacy message that matches who they are.
Invest in mini-video camera (they are as small as a cell phone) and keep it handy. Record video messages about why a particular library issue is important to the local notables or celebrities who visit your library. Get their OK to upload these videos on your library’s website.
There are so many great library advocacy events throughout the year! These include Library Snapshot Day, National Library Week, Library Card Sign Up Month, Teen Read Week, Banned Books Week, and others. Find out when they are, and use them as “hooks” to create opportunities for your local notables to get involved. Look for these at: http://www.ala.org/ala/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/index.cfm.
One library uses Banned Books Week to bring a wide range of their local notables into the library (politicians, judges, local actors, radio personalities, even the owner of the local fast food restaurant) to read for 10 minutes from a banned book. Library staff report that the program has helped the them make friends with many community members who they would not have otherwise thought of contacting. Great idea!
Don’t let these opportunities to weave your everyday contacts with your community’s notable people into your library’s all-important advocacy message. They will boost your confidence and ability to handle the challenges that working with local notables and celebrities bring, while continuously adding to your library’s distinction, reputation…and yes, its status as a critical part of your community.