Elevator Content

At Midwinter, a facilitated discussion took place with ALSC leadership with the goal of creating short messages – typically characterized as “elevator speeches” - to deliver to benefit children’s librarians, children’s services and ALSC. Using a series of questions, thought pieces, the group worked through ideas of targets and targeted messages.

Elevator Content is for:

  • decision makers in institutions who are making decisions on providing support for staff who wish to join ALSC (value, benefits)

  • joining ALSC (value, benefits)

  • sustained membership in ALSC (value, benefits)

What are the elements of elevator speeches?

The goal of a creating an ‘elevator’ speech or message means – obviously – that you create a brief, powerful set of statements or phrases or “reasons” for why someone should:

  • Value something such as you!, children’s librarians, your profession in general, etc.

  • Become aware of a need of yours/a request of yours

  • Recognize the benefits of/value of youth services in libraries

  • Become a children’s librarian

  • Decide in your favor on something

  • Fund an initiative

  • Not cut a budget

  • Join an association or a division

  • Choose activity as well as membership

When you create your speech you are not just trying to “bend others to your will” but instead you are trying to:

  • Convince

  • Create awareness

  • Identify issues/a need

  • Solve a problem

  • Change a mind

  • Begin a discussion

  • Elicit a response

Your speech or message might begin:

  • Last year we provided services and resources for…x amount/number

  • Did you know that – if you look at the attendees of all of our programs – we touched the lives of x families, x children, x caregivers….

  • I think out greatest value is that we make a difference in the first years of our patrons’ lives….

  • With last year’s funding we met the needs of x community non-profits in three ways….

  • The latest research shows that if you read to children before the age of x, you impact brain development….by x %...in three developmental ways…

  • You may not be aware of, but …

  • I would like to bring something to your attention…

  • You ought to consider…. OR would you mind considering…

  • You might enjoy knowing…

  • I know you think that….but I would like to point out…

  • I just found out that….

  • Here’s an interesting update (fact, statistic….) on….

  • My division is an incredible value because….unique c.e…..leadership training…etc.

The content of speeches and messages is important but it varies based on to whom you are speaking. Your target population is who gets on that “elevator” with you! It could be:

  • A manager or director over children’s services

  • A district school librarian coordinator

  • The PTA/parents’ group

  • The Advisory Board/Governing Board/School Board

  • Non-profit director partners in the community

  • Teachers

  • Library School students

  • A librarian in another area of ALA

To design the elevator speeches critical to children’s librarians and children’s services as well as ALSC, Division Leadership Working Group gathered at Midwinter to have a facilitated discussion.  General recommendations for children’s librarian’s communicated value and need include:

  • Always be politically neutral.

  • Credential yourself. You are an expert in the field so use your expertise in identifying, recommending and illustrating value and benefit of the library, library services and resources and the value you bring to your constituents as an expert.

  • Lead with information your audience may not know at the start of the conversation and consider using unusual facts/data about the library or the impact of your work such as brain research on exposure to reading and literature as predictor of student success.

  • If you are trying to change a mind or convince someone to support you - begin your presentation by dispelling a myth, countering a negative opinion with a positive idea, providing correct data where incorrect data exists.

  • (Always have your digital camera ready.  Be aware of privacy.  Example: Take pictures of full computer use).

Group 1/Notes

Target: Community Member/Taxpayer

Issue: A taxpayer is concerned the library spending taxpayer money on “fads” or trendy resources such as e-books

Relevant comments:

  • “Libraries use standardized, intelligent processes to select materials and resources.”

  • “Libraries give the public the information they need to make informed choices about classic and new devices and resources.”

  • Share your data and go with statistics.  “Our circulation of materials at the x library was 10% of the entire state’s circulation” or “we reach 70% of all of the (ex. caregivers, children under five, single parents) in the community.”

  • “We have experts at the library and we can show you how technology works! Visit your technology ‘petting zoo.’”

Group 2/Notes

Target: Another Librarian in ALA in different division

Issue: The value of membership and activity in ALSC

Relevant comments:

  • “ALSC librarians are the first to introduce children to reading. Early introduction to reading and literature has a direct link to academic success in the first x years of life.”

  • “The audience for and focus of ALSC materials and resources is not only children, but lifelong and multigenerational in nature.”

  • “ALSC librarians study not only literature for children and youth, but are committed to the study and teaching of the joy of reading.”

Group 3/Notes

Target: Director of Library

Issue: A director only supports conference attendance for book award committee members. How can “X” go to a conference for training, professional development, educational programs and networking?

Relevant comments:

  • ALSC members should communicate the value of conference attendance for children’s and youth activities by identifying expert presenters, specific conference activities and events, vendor and product availability and reduced costs.

  • ALSC members should seek conference event interests from colleagues to gather information (handouts, brochures) for colleagues and peers to serve in a train-the-trainer role upon return.

  • ALSC conference attendees will return to the library with best practices ideas that can be implemented easily and immediately.

  • ALSC members should advertise that their national association activity is possible through the variety of opportunities for collaboration through virtual and digital association/committee. Products include: x.

  • ALSC members should communicate the value of newer members bringing back fresh perspective to 21st century librarianship, rather than relying on seniority.

Group 4/Notes

Target: City Council/Funders

Issue: Value of children’s programming such as story times

Relevant comments:

  • In our patron survey last year, story times were listed as #1 program that makes a difference for children, parents and families and caregivers. To illustrate in numbers, just in the last two months, we reached over 1,000 people (adults and children) patrons with our early literacy tip sheets. Last year we had x thousand more through the tip sheet posted on our website. Posting and advertising our online tip sheets supports our green initiative!

  • Story times offer our new English speaking families exposure to the English language before their children reach kindergarten. These families have told us that this exposure has provided valuable experience and otherwise they feel their child could fall behind.

  • After many years in the library we have experienced that story time is the engine that drives the library.  Children grow up to be adult patrons and voters.

Group 5/Notes

Target: PTA Group/Parent Group

Issue: Illustrate the worth of children’s services to a member of the PTA

Relevant comments:

  • “The Library provides equal access for enrichment (even in the poorest neighborhoods).”

  • “The Library offers a breadth and depth of resources and independent choice for readers.”

  • “Librarians offer expert guidance and their resources are – in essence - free resources. You’ve already paid for your services and resources with your taxes - use them!”

Group 6/Notes

Target: Parent-Guided Reading

Issue: Parent only wants Accelerated Reader titles to take back to child.

Relevant comments:

  • Yes, we have books that are on the AR list and I’d be happy to recommend ten of the best titles and let your child choose.

  • I can see you are in a hurry, and I’m going to get you what you want.  As you are selecting the books from the list, however, I might add that based on the research I have from the profession, data show that children who are able to make independent reading choices will read more. In addition, children who read independently will score 100 points higher on the SAT. To allow a choice of the three titles your child needs to read, you might take home six books and let them pick what interests them.

Group 7/Notes

Target: Foundation Board

Issue: You need to request and justify laptops for a laptop loaner program

Relevant comments:

  • “80% of my reference questions are homework help and the area schools post all homework to school websites and online learning environments.”

  • “Although five more computers greatly expands our access and taxes our table space and seating, please take a look at the pictures of our kids waiting in line to use library computers. These pictures - worth a 1,000 words – truly illustrate the need. This last summer alone, we distributed over 780 “your place in line is x” buttons to patrons waiting for our ten (older) computer workstations.”

  • “Data from the Library’s annual report identified 15,000 community members and 10,000 families were served by the library with 65% indicating on our survey that they don’t have computer access.”

  • Our library had a 15% increase in Internet access use in fiscal year over the last fiscal year.  Only 6 patrons can use at a time.

  • Our communities unemployment rate is 9% - almost double digits! The library assisted over 2,000 people last year in job related information seeking reference activities. We have estimated we need 4 extra laptops to loan out for job searching.

Group 8/Notes

Target: State Library

Issue: The State library must have a place at the table with school readiness committees in government.  Libraries will be left behind if NOT at the table at the state level. Need to trickle down to communities.

Relevant comments:

  • Agencies must race to the top to identify dollars available in local, state, regional and federal entities. This race requires a commitment from existing library agencies as well as relationships and partnerships in place to take advantage of opportunities.

  • IMLS dollars – specifically for libraries – should be identified and tapped for opportunities to maximize money for state and local agencies.

  • Community partnerships for early literacy, brain development and early learning, should be identified and cultivated.

Group 9/Notes

Target: Wisconsin State Legislature

Issue: Public libraries are considered educational institutions in some states and not in others. If institutions are NOT considered as such, many dollars are not available.

  • Libraries – not currently identified as educational institutions by the federal government- need to partner with educational institutions (ex. Head Start, ISD’s)for funding avenues.

  • Public libraries are often the only free accessible resource in communities available for children ages 0-5.

  • Patrons receive $4.05 in services and programs at the public library for every $1.00 in state funding.

  • Public libraries are an educational equalizer. In this era of education delivered over the Internet, public libraries provide expertise, services and resources educational programs and lifelong learning.

ALSC Messages

  • ALSC provides opportunity for new ideas.

  • The Division provides a community of “like” minds.  Many members are working alone in their libraries and in their communities, and the association provides expertise and support from all over the country.

  • ALSC programs provide cutting edge content and are often the first place members hear about data and new resources and services. ALSC members have shared:

    • “A 2002 program on early literacy gave me the words to articulate the power of early literacy research.  Since 2002, I’ve been able to make a difference in children’s lives.”

    • “ALSC provided me the 50 best hours of continuing education/benchmarks I could take home to be a better librarian and immediately assist me in serving my community in new ways.”

    • Children’s literature is the cornerstone of a wide variety of professions and the best way to learn about children’s books is to go to the public library. ALSC work provides these professions extensive research into the literature and the application of literature in work with children and youth.