United for Libraries, along with the Neal-Schuman Foundation, believe strongly that advocacy can and does work. We’ve seen evidence of it from coast to coast in all types of libraries at the local and the state levels. Developing an advocacy campaign, as you will soon see, is not rocket science but it does take dedication, hard work, a core group of people who are passionate about the cause and the support of many, many people in your community. This guide will take the mystery out of advocacy, provide you with an organized step-by-step approach, and allow you to develop a set of strategies that will motivate your community to pressure funders to support the library or in the case of a referendum or a bond issue – to vote “yes.”
FREE Webinar: Responding to a Budget Crisis
Learn how to develop a campaign for your library in a budget crisis from a group that fought for an additional $3.8 million for their library system. Find out how to work with the media, get publicity, find creative ways to campaign, and more. Watch the free recording (50 minutes).
Speakers include Kate Park, executive director of the Friends of the Dallas (Texas) Public Library; Patti Clapp, advocacy chair of the Friends, and Sally Reed, executive director of United for Libraries.
Friends of the Dallas (Texas) Public Library was one of 20 recipients of the Neal-Schuman Citizens-Save-Libraries grants. The library had experienced budget cuts of 40%, leaving it the worst funded urban library system in the country. The Friends used their training to develop an advocacy plan that resulted in the library receiving an additional $3.8 million to hire 92 full-time employees, allowing the library to open 12 branches for 50 hours a week.
FREE Webinar: Anatomy of a Successful Library Campaign: Real World Tips for Getting the Funding You Need
In celebration of the ninth annual National Friends of Libraries Week, United for Libraries recorded a webinar with Libby Post of Communication Services and Doreen Hannon, executive director of the Salem-South Lyon (Mich.) District Library, who discussed the library’s successful millage campaign, developed thanks to a Neal-Schuman grant. Watch the free recording, which runs just over one hour.
Doreen Hannon received a Bachelor of Science from Michigan State University and a MLIS degree from Wayne State University. She has worked at the Salem-South Lyon District Library (SSLDL) since 1996 and has served as Library Director since 2002. Libby Post, one of United for Libraries' advocacy consultants, has been working with public libraries to pass funding and district initiatives as well as building referendums since 2005. She is the founder of the Library Campaign Training Institute and has a success rate of over 80%. She consulted with Salem-South Lyon Library District and helped the library lay out a successful strategy for their millage campaign utilizing the Citizens-Save-Libraries Power Guide for Successful Advocacy.
Check out these success stories from the first round of Neal-Schuman Citizens-Save-Libraries grants!
- Clarkston (Mich.) Independence District Library passes millage with help from United for Libraries
- Gilmanton (N.H.) Year-Round Library receives town funding with help from United for Libraries
- Salem-South Lyon (Mich.) District Library passes millage increase with help from United for Libraries
The Power Guide
Download the free Power Guide for Successful Advocacy (PDF, 660 kb), your step-by-step guide to developing an advocacy campaign. As you go through the Power Guide, come back to this page to see examples of talking points, flyers, petitions, and more.
- "Libraries Matter": - by the ALA Washington Office (1:15-2:30 minute videos)
- "Libraries Now: A Day in the Life" - "...offers a surprising look at how library branches in New York City have evolved into community centers, providing a whole array of services and programs" (10 minutes)
- "Vote Yes for the Mount Vernon (N.Y.) Public Library's Budget" - Mount Vernon (N.Y.) Taxpayers for a Stronger Library (3 minutes)
- "Don't Be Scared!" - Mount Vernon (N.Y.) Taxpayers for a Stronger Library - (2 minutes)
- "Two Dallas Residents Invoke Dr. Seuss to Share Concerns about City Budget" - Dallas (Texas) (2 minutes)
- Philadelphia Mayor Nutter Gives Emotional Response Regarding New Budget - Philadelphia (Pa.) (scroll down for video)
- It's Time to Thrive (PDF, 39.5 kb)
- Take 5 Minutes to Speak Out for Libraries (PDF, 138 kb)
- Cecil County Public Library ROI Handout (PDF, 265 kb)
- Schuylerville Public Library Postcard (PDF, 57 kb)
- Schuylerville Public Library Foldover Postcard (PDF, 93 kb)
- Wood Library Postcard (PDF, 903 kb)
- Wood Library Foldover Postcard (PDF, 47 kb)
- Schuylerville Taxpayer Petition (PDF, 11kb)
- Baker Free Library Fact Sheet (PDF, 92 kb)
- Expand Our Library Fact Sheet (PDF, 61 kb)
- Henderson Library Tax Initiative Fact Sheet (PDF, 365 kb)
- Schuylerville Fact Sheet (PDF, 53 kb)
- Wood Library Q&A (PDF, 77 kb)
- Henderson Libraries 1 (PDF, 121 kb)
- Henderson Libraries 2 (PDF, 876 kb)
- Henderson Libraries 3 (PDF, 519 kb)
- Baltimore County Public Library tri-fold (PDF, 988 kb)
- Henderson Library half-fold (PDF, 1.66 mb)
- Wood Library tri-fold (PDF, 2.38 mb)
- Expand Our Library 2.75" by 8.5" bookmark (PDF, 43 kb)
- 2014 Voter Guide - Long Beach (Calif.) Public Library Foundation and Friends of the Long Beach Public Library
Positioning Your Library As An Essential Service: Marketing, PR and Advocacy
This presentation (PDF, 3.3 MB), from Communication Services, was given to the New York Library Association in 2010. The PowerPoint handouts (PDF, 3.3 MB) contain excellent information and tips on positioning your library through marketing, public relations, and advocacy.
Return on Investment Statement Resources
Refer to page 8 and Appendix A on page 26 of the Power Guide for more information about developing return on investment statements. The links below are taken directly from the Power Guide and provided here for easy access:
- In low-income neighborhoods, children start kindergarten 60% behind their peers from affluent communities, leaving them woefully unprepared. (Jump Start, “Early Childhood Education Crises” at http://www.jstart.org/our-work/americas-early-education-crisis)
- Studies show that students who do not read during the summer need an average of a full month remediation when school starts in September. (“What to Look for in a Summer Reading Program.” GreatSchools at http://docs.gatesfoundation.org/learning/documents/opportunityforall.pdf)
- Few community services enjoy the type of public support that is generally given to public libraries. In a recent national survey conducted by Public Agenda, people were more likely to rate library service as excellent or good than the service they receive from their local police department, public schools or their local media (“Making Cities Stronger: Public Library Contributions to Local Economic Development,” Urban Libraries Council report http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/1001075_stronger_cities.pdf).
- Libraries play an essential, non-partisan role in providing the information that allows citizens to make informed decisions. Libraries make a difference. Libraries transform lives. – Stephen Abrams in The Value of Libraries: Impact, Normative Data, & Influencing Funders, at http://www.imakenews.com/sirsi/e_article000396335.cfm?x=b4tcm1g,b2rpmkgk,w
- “From providing a place to do homework to applying to college or looking for financial aid, library online services are a key part of the educational system in our country.” From Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Public Libraries. Institute of Museum and Library Services at http://tascha.washington.edu/usimpact
Tools for Promoting Your Library's Value
- What is my library worth? An individual return on investment calaculator from Berthoud (Colo.) Community Library District http://berthoud.colibraries.org/about-us/what-is-my-library-worth.html
- Return on investment calculator at http://www.ilovelibraries.org/getinformed/getinvolved/calculator
- Quotes on the importance of libraries at http://www.libraryquotes.org
- Return on investment results from states around the country at http://www.ala.org/research/librariesmatter/taxonomy/term/129
- Urban Libraries Council’s commissioned study on libraries and economic development of the communities they serve at http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/1001075_stronger_cities.pdf
- Rural Research Report: Public Libraries and Community Economic Development, Partnering for Results at http://www.iira.org/pubs/publications/IIRA_RRR_688.pdf
- Pew Internet and American Life Project at http://www.pewinternet.org/Topics/Activities-and-Pursuits/Libraries.aspx
- Toward Equality of Access: The Role of Public Libraries in Addressing the Digital Divide at http://www.imls.gov/assets/1/AssetManager/Equality.pdf. Read the accompanying press release from the US Chamber of Commerce at http://www.uschamber.com/press/releases/2004/february/chamber-joins-gates-foundation-close-digital-divide.
- Urban Libraries Report: Partners for the Future: Public Libraries and Local Governments Creating Sustainable Communities at http://www.urbanlibraries.org/filebin/pdfs/Sustainability_Report_2010.pdf.
- School Library Journal: Summer Reading Programs Boost Achievement, Study Says at http://www.slj.com/2010/11/students/summer-reading-programs-boost-student-achievement-study-says/.