As library ambassadors in the community, Friends serve as the eyes and ears of the library as well as its voice. The larger the Friends group, the more decision-makers will sit up and take notice.
- Make sure your fellow Friends know their role in library advocacy and the need to work in cooperation with the library administration and board.
- Start an advocacy committee to work with library administrators and the board in building public awareness and support for the library.
- Make friends with key decision-makers. Invite them to speak to your Friends group or be guests of honor at special events.
- Publish updates about library issues and suggestions for supporting them in your newsletter.
- Recruit others to join the Friends and to speak out for libraries.
- Thank or recognize officials who support the library. Make them honorary Friends. Feature them in the Friends’ newsletter.
- Let library administrators know about concerns—and compliments—you hear from others.
- Testify at hearings in support of the library.
- Raise and give funds to help raise awareness and build support for the library.
While library directors must take a leadership role, everyone on the staff—including librarians, LTAs, clerks, pages and delivery drivers—can help to raise awareness of what the library offers and needs.
- Be enthusiastic and positive. Encourage others to speak out. Thank them for their support.
- Recruit and work closely with community leaders, encouraging their involvement and interest in the library.
- Communicate regularly with key community/campus/school leaders to keep them current with library concerns—and let them know how their funding makes a difference for your users.
- Keep library board members, staff, Friends, and users informed of library needs and concerns. Provide updates, messages, training and suggestions to help them support the library.
- Maintain your advocacy network. Invite library users and others to testify at budget hearings, participate in media interviews and visit legislators.
- Participate in influential community or campus groups and use this as an opportunity to get the library’s message out and recruit advocates.
- Maintain a VIP list to receive the library’s newsletter, the annual report and other special mailings.
- Work at keeping a high profile for your library. Develop a marketing communication plan with a strong, consistent message.
- Know the library’s message and be prepared to answer any questions you might get.
- Ask library users, your family, friends, and neighbors to help spread the word.
- Be on the alert for good library user stories in your daily work. Collect them and forward to the appropriate person.
- Be a walking, talking billboard for libraries. Wear t-shirts, hats/other accessories that are pro-library.
- Use a library message as part of your e-mail signature.
- Look for new and creative ways of delivering the message—on the job and off.
- Listen and provide feedback to library administrators on issues/concerns that you may hear about.
- Keep current. Make a point of reading library updates so you can be knowledgeable.
As a trustee, you are in an ideal position to reach out to legislators, decision-makers and the public. You know the valuable services your library provides. You also know what it takes to provide those services.
- Use your political savvy and connections on behalf of the library.
- Make a point of getting to know key officials. Stay in touch even when you aren’t asking for something.
- Work closely with the library administration and staff in developing advocacy messages and strategies.
- Share your insights on how best to communicate library needs to the broader community and decision-makers.
- Make a point of recognizing legislators and business, campus and community leaders who have supported the library.
- Join United for Libraries and your state association’s trustee section to stay informed about the bigger picture of libraries.
- Be prepared to respond to questions that might arise about library matters, especially any sensitive issues.
- Make yourself available to speak to groups or the media.