Reach Out to Decision-makers
Decision-makers include the mayor, school boards, school superintendent/principal, university administrators and other officials—elected or appointed—who make key decisions about the library. Staying in regular contact will make it easier to seek their support.
Tips for Success:
- Maintain a current list/database of decision-makers, the committees they serve on, their personal and professional background, issues of special concern, their key staff and contact information.
- Use your contacts. Do you have board members, Friends, users or neighbors who have influence with key officials? Ask them if they would be willing to support your case.
- Start sooner rather than later. Make it a point to get library concerns included in forums for candidates. Provide each candidate with a packet of information about the library.
- Send letters of congratulations to winning candidates and an invitation to visit the library or media center.
- Make it easy for them to support you. Keep your visits/presentations brief and to the point. Provide a one-page briefing sheet with a clear statement of the action you are seeking, and key facts. Include contact information for additional information.
- Stay in touch. Schedule regular visits, call or drop by to chat, if that is an option. Send your newsletter, annual report and articles of interest.
- Get them into the library at least once during the year. Invite them for coffee, to speak or attend special events. Make sure they are introduced. Alert the media, and take pictures to display in the library. Include their photo in the library’s newsletter.
- Make sure they know about your successes. Send news clippings, copies of noteworthy thanks you letters and other items that reflect well on the library’s contributions.
- Invite the county board, school board or board of regents to meet at your library. Provide refreshments and a tour before the meeting.
- Send a gift basket of cookies, poster, coffee mug or other token during National Library Week/School Library Media Month or other appropriate time to thank them for their support.
- Make it clear that you share their commitment to quality education, economic development, literacy or other key issues.
- Provide information packets on topics that may help their decision-making, not just about the library, but other aspects as well.
- Support those who support you. If a parent board is endorsing a particular piece of legislation, send a letter or have your Friends group send letters of support and forward copies to the board.
- Thank them. In person. In writing—and in public—whenever possible.