Of Ohio’s 251 public libraries, only three have presented levies since 2009 without success. Some might believe that those three might as well give up, that the necessary level of services simply can’t be met without such local funding support. However, Holmes County District Public Library (HCDPL), one of those three, is challenging the way that funding happens and, with a bit of cross-cultural cooperation, succeeding.
One of the most challenging tasks for grassroots advocacy is in finding data to justify the relative importance of the cause one seeks to promote. In speaking with federal, state, and local legislators about a wide array of good causes, invariably the elected official will ask something like this: “how do I know that folks living in my area actually care about … [insert name of cause here].” Thankfully, for library advocates, a wonderful source of data measures is available to help quantify the actual degree to which the public at-large truly values public libraries.
Who would have thought that the United States Congress—after a year filled with gridlock and subsequent political inertia—would end up giving the American people a gift just before Christmas week? As of last week, comprehensive legislation finalizing the federal budget for fiscal year 2014 received final passage from both the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. While generally modest in scope, the mere fact that a piece of fiscal legislation garnered the support of key Democrats and Republicans in Congress represents a significant achievement.
Fifty-four percent of Americans visited a library in person or used a public library’s website at least once during the past 12 months, and 70 percent of parents have taken their child to a public library or bookmobile during the past year, according to “How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities,” a report released today by the Pew Research Center. The nationally representative survey of 6,224 Americans 16 and older indicated that the overwhelming majority of Americans continue to have a positive view of libraries, although many are not aware of all of the services and resources that their libraries offer.
With all the excitement over social media and reports of newspapers closing or shifting focus to keep ad revenues rolling in, libraries have taken a hit with ever decreasing coverage. You might even be thinking whether it’s worth the effort to create media releases. The quick answer is yes. If well written and interesting they can amplify your message reaching reporters, bloggers and the general public through your web and social media channels. But if you want to have larger value-driven articles published, you’ll need to step up your game and pitch those story ideas to reporters.
All librarians want to serve their communities and patrons as best they can, but knowing how best to provide that service isn’t always easy. The demands of day to day duties, not to mention privacy concerns, can make it hard for staffers to learn the finer details of how patrons are using their services. Without a clear picture of how services like computer access are being put to use, it can be difficult to determine how to fine tune them to the needs of users. Now, researchers at the University of Washington (UW) iSchool have introduced the Impact Survey, a tool that lets patrons anonymously report on how they use library technology while they’re using it, helping librarians understand how—and when—patrons are interacting with the access to technological resources that they provide—and to demonstrate the value of those services to local governments.
Teaching from the real world is pure joy most of the time. Students love it when they see something from class in the pixels of library journals and magazines, the mass media, or the technology press. Most of the time, discussing change while it’s happening is a visceral lesson in professional adaptability and continuous learning. However, I could have done without having to teach technology-related privacy issues to my “Digital Trends, Tools, and Debates” students in the shadow of the NSA’s newly-revealed surveillance practices.
I suspect we are missing our key audience when we follow our traditional inbound service model during Library Card Sign-Up Month. I believe we can be much more effective if we take a page out of political campaigns and meet the public door-to-door. I’d settle for event-based sign-ups at the grocery store, bank, train station, or playground. But door-to-door is extremely effective in transforming a contact into a conversation and that conversation into action.
This fall a new national “library staff picks list” will debut under the name LibraryReads. All public library staff will be welcome to nominate new adult titles that they have read, loved, and are eager to share with patrons via the website libraryreads.org, which will go live today at noon. The ten most frequently recommended titles will be calculated monthly, and beginning this autumn, the resulting list will be publicized and promoted by librarians in branches as well as in patron newsletters, websites, etc.
Walk Your Precinct: Use Campaigns Techniques To Activate Library Advocates and Voters | Advocates’ Corner
Our colleagues in the political sciences spend considerable time studying voter behavior. They have identified several key reasons that people do or don’t come out to the polls. Human factors like self-identification with a candidate’s issues, personal familiarity with the candidate, and the voter’s own sense of civic responsibility set a baseline for likely support. Whether the voter trusts the election process and government in general, is knowledgeable about the issues and not just personalities, and whether there are barriers to his or her enfranchisement are also significant drivers. Finally, is the voter motivated to go to the polls to punch a chad, or does the campaign need to activate him or her? Over time, candidates have leveraged and shaped these human behaviors into the modern Get Out the Vote (GOTV) campaign. GOTV approaches becomes best practices for us to follow in library ballot campaigns.