Showing Library Value to Local Government
As you know the majority of funding for public libraries is local- city, county, or special district.
So your major efforts need to be focused during these terribly tough economic times on showing the value of your library to your main funding source.
Libraries need to visibly show their value when budgets are being cut.
1) How Can the Library Help Local Government- Be Part of the Solution
- You need to reach out to your local administration to show how the library helps the community in times of economic stress, but also how the library can help the local government.
- Gather information on the value of libraries from sources such as:
- Set up meetings with administrators and other department heads to offer services of the library to help them (research services on best practices or innovative solutions, distribution point for information, E government, space for outreach to citizenry, surveys, etc)
- Bring them (mayor, council members, administrators) to the library to show services
- Actively participate in budget meetings. Be a positive contributor in working to identify creative approaches.
2) How Does the Library Help the Community during an Economic Crisis
- Put together a fact sheet on all the ways the library helps the community and share it with local government officials
Can include the following:
Free Internet Access - Job Search and Career Exploration Assistance - Borrowing library materials saves money – Business Development-Programs on Managing Money, Investments, Stress- Database Resources- Other Programs such as food drives, outreach to folks on fixed income
Include Return on Investment data if you have it- or refer to other studies
Include increased usage statistics over the last year or last few months when crisis became acute
3) Media Coverage
Now is the time to reach out to your local media (newspaper, radio, TV) to get stories on the use and value of libraries during the economic downturn
Many other communities have gotten coverage. See examples and use hooks from these stories to solicit interviews
4) Support from Your Library Users
Once again, the best spokespeople to your local officials are your library users
- Make sure library supporters attend budget meeting hearings to talk about the value of the library, especially those new library users or those taking advantage of a vital service
- Get Friends and others to write letters to the editor on how the library has helped them during these tough economic times
- Strategize on who can be your influencers