Advocacy within the Library

While advocacy outside your library is certainly important, don’t forget about sharing the message inside your library! Your staff and volunteers are already passionate about the services your library offers. Train them to share your library’s advocacy message with the people they encounter every day.

Strive for a positive library atmosphere. Your library’s environment creates a message of its own. What do your patrons see when they visit your library? What’s the message they receive? Friendly, knowledgeable staff, user-centered policies, passionate and friendly volunteers, and a “Yes, I can!” attitude create a memorable impression. When your users think of the library, these elements will create value in their minds.

Recruit your volunteers, Friends of the Library, and Foundation to speak on your behalf. The next time you need help sharing your message, invite these groups of advocates to join you. Having a paid staff member share a message is one thing, but unpaid advocates can take your message to the next level.

Remove barriers for your patrons wherever possible. You may think that ten-cent fine must be paid before your patron uses the Internet, but there are myriad reasons why your patron may not agree. Is it worth having him or her walk away with a negative impression of the library?

Advocate on behalf of your patrons with other staff. Help them understand the importance of creating a friendly environment and making the library as easy to visit as possible. (Not everyone has the same forgiving nature most youth librarians have!)

Be a good colleague. Your fellow staff members are advocates, too, so help them whenever you can. You’ll get valuable experience outside of the children’s department and perhaps a sense of how other departments work. If you’re a good partner within your library, there’s a good chance your colleagues will respond in kind.