The Small but Powerful Guide to Winning Big Support for Your Rural Library

Tools for Success

Annual Report

An annual report provides comprehensive information on an organization’s activities throughout the preceding year. Annual reports provide community leaders and other interested people with information about the library’s activities and performance. It should be brief, attractive and reinforce the library’s key message. Make sure it gets into the hands of funders and other key stakeholders.

Business Card

Don’t forget the obvious. Be sure to include the library’s website and hours. Give it out as often as you can.

Communication Plan

A plan will help you get a bigger bang for your buck. Elements include goals, objectives, positioning, key messages, target audiences, strategies for delivering the message and evaluation.

Fact Sheet

A good way to present key points quickly. Keep narrative to a minimum. Use bullets to highlight key facts/statistics. Shorter is better—no more than two pages. Use with public officials, community groups, reporters or anyone who wants information fast.

News Release

Newspapers and other media welcome a well written news release and will often run it “as is.” Start with the most important information and end with the least. Be sure to cover the 5Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why)—and H (How). Keep it short— one page if possible.

Public Service Announcement

Free space for ads may be available from local newspapers and radio stations. Ask about availability and guidelines.


Both can be useful tools for providing timely information, especially to those who might not come into the library. The trick is to keep them simple and current.   

Sample message sheet:

Key Message: Our community deserves a 21st century library.

Talking Points

1. The library is a great resource and a great value for our community. (Benefits)

  • It’s the only place in town where people of all ages go to learn and enjoy.
  • We introduce children to the joy of reading and help with their homework.
  • We save time and money by helping people get materials they need for health, business, leisure and other needs.

2. Our library is bursting at the seams. (Problem)

  • We have people waiting two hours to use the computers.
  • We have to turn children away from programs.
  • People constantly complain about the noise.

3. We have a plan to renovate and expand the library. (Solution)

  • We will create more space for computers and add wireless technology.
  • We will add a meeting room for community groups.
  • We will enclose the children’s area, add a quiet area and teen space.


  • Since this library was built, the number of residents has grown 10 times. The number of library cardholders has grown 70%.
  • More children participated in the library’s summer reading program than in Little League baseball.
  • Last year our library users checked out an average of 20 materials. If they had to buy those materials, it would have cost $350.


One mother told me that the library is about the only place her whole family goes together. She said, “We love family nights. And we can always find something to read. It’s the one place we can afford and we all enjoy. I don’t know what we would do without it.”

Call to Action

We need your support.

  • We have an opportunity to apply for a state grant.
  • We need to raise $50,000 in matching funds.
  • We ask that you give and encourage our town council, your friends and neighbors to support a bigger and better library for our community.

No matter what your pitch is, make sure you tailor your message to your audience. 

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