Playing Politics presentation given at MLA Annual Conference 2008. Learn how to develop positive relationships with your local officials, align your message with the community's values, and get
Playing Politics presentation given at MLA Annual Conference 2008. Learn how to develop positive relationships with your local officials, align your message with the community's values, and get support for your library.
Playing Politics Christine Tobias Council Member, City of Perry MLA Annual Conference October 23, 2008
Learn why YOU need to advocate for your Library Gain a better understanding of your community and its values Discover ways to create positive working relationships with your local officials Manage the opposition to your advantage
10 Reasons Elected Officials Oppose Library Funding 1. Library should do a better job of relating to the community. 2. Library should do a better job of customer service. 3. Public libraries should combine with school libraries. 4. There are other priorities for public $$$$ (health, safety). 5. Libraries are already sufficiently funded, especially if they get private money.
10 Reasons Elected Officials Oppose Library Funding 6. Voting for the library budget will hurt chances for re-election. 7. Cut to the library’s budget can help solve city’s financial plight. 8. Library does not help itself. 9. No return on investment. (Libraries are not a basic service.) 10. Council members do not know what the issues are, nor who library supporters are!
You are the Library’s first line of defense! Stand up and advocate!
Library Advocate A person who appreciates libraries and their role in society to the extent of speaking and acting publicly in their support, especially when funding and the freedom to read are at stake. Trustees Librarians Library Support Staff Directors/Administrators Community Residents/Patrons
“ What a sad want I am in of libraries, of books to gather facts from! Why is there not a Majesty's library in every county town? There is a Majesty's jail and gallows in every one.” – Thomas Carlyle, Scottish historian and political philosopher
Dirty Words? POLITICS SOCIAL ACTIVIST SCHMOOZER
But it’s sooooooo political… Yes, it’s political…but aren’t all “working” relationships?
The Squeaky Wheel… Shout it out! Show the link between your library and the community! Share your message directly with those in your community who have the ability to influence others in your favor.
Get to know local officials on a first-name basis.
Appoint “people” people; extroverts; community schmoozers
Increase visibility: join a community group (i.e.- Chamber of Commerce) and attend meetings!
Chance encounters…conversations at water cooler; in grocery store; driving down the street; walking in your neighborhoods
Identify key audience groups
Focus on the people who can get you what you want!
Let’s Talk! Good old-fashioned conversation is one of the best ways to reach your audiences. Can be used effectively inside and outside of the library by all staff, library board members, patrons, etc. in any common location. WARNING: It’s a small world! Be careful what you say about others!
Prepare Your Troops Representative from Library Board should attend local government meetings…so officials cannot speak for you! Make sure you provide your staff with the information they need to be effective and accurate messengers! Staff should be experts on any and all library issues. Provide the same “official” answer to questions. Be knowledgeable about the issues and know when to refer to an expert for answers. “ Let me take your name and number and get back to you.”
Summary YOU need to advocate for your library. It is your local government’s job to represent you…but they can’t do so unless you educate them about the issues. Find out what’s important to your community and align your message with those values. Seek out your local government’s official stand on the issues.
Summary Schmooze and network with your local officials. Get to know them on a first-name basis. Use media to support your outreach efforts. Have an “official” message and enhance your visibility in the community. Don’t be afraid of the opposition! Use them to advance your cause and gain support in the community.
“ Every kind of service necessary to the public good becomes honourable by being necessary.” – Nathan Hale, American Revolutionary
Christine Tobias Reference and Technology Librarian Michigan State University Council Member, City of Perry [email_address] AIM: ctobias522 517-432-6123 x 313 http://www.slideshare.net/tobiasc/playing-politics-presentation/
References Craft, M. A. (1999). The funding game: rules for public library advocacy. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. Libraries prosper with passion, purpose and persuasion! (2007). Chicago, Illinois: Public Library Association. Siess, J. A. (2003). The visible librarian: asserting your value with marketing and advocacy . Chicago, Illinois: American Library Association.