Regardless of what The West Wing may have told us, elections are always a numbers game. Let’s say your public library serves a community of 10,000 people and you are fielding a $15 million bond measure to build a new library next November. If we run the “national average” numbers for a Congressional election cycle, you will likely have around 7,000 people of voting age in your jurisdiction. Voter registration runs as high as 60 percent for these biennial elections. However, turn out will be as low as 42 percent in a general election. If your bond measure looses by 4 percent, a not unheard of margin, you will have lost by 141 votes. If you are on the primary ballot—where turn out is in the 22 percent range—you lose by just 74 votes. Multiply that by five or by ten for bigger towns and cities and counties and we’re still talking about small numbers of voters.
Filling the Advocacy Gap: How Millions of Dollars Are at Stake on Ballots and What We’re Doing About It | Advocates’ Corner
Will marketing result in increased funding? According to Library Journal’s November survey, most libraries think not—unless your library is serving a population of 500K+. Then 70 percent of the participants believe marketing helped. Interestingly, the majority of those surveyed from libraries of all sizes believed marketing increased their perceived value to elected officials and the community at large. If libraries could apply the influence of advocacy to their marketing strategies, they might see an increase their funding.
(Editor’s Note: LJ’s Lead the Change program will be offered in eighteen additional cities in 2013 and will be in the Rochester, New York area on March 28. The upstate/western New York program is being hosted by the Rochester Public Library and Monroe County Library System and will take place at the Greece Public Library, Greece, [...]
Everywhere you turn in the world of libraries these days, you hear people talking about the need for private fundraising. ALA conferences have multiple concurrent sessions on fundraising, articles dealing with fundraising in library publications abound, and listservs everywhere are dissecting the pros and cons of private fundraising.
Humbled by the opportunity to contribute to the esteemed Library Journal, I hope I can lend some lessons from my twenty-plus years of politics to the cause of “selling the library.” Before taking up that challenge of how to advocate, I think it important to say a few words about why we need to advocate.
When I started my blog in 2006, I named it The ‘M’ Word, because marketing was considered to be taboo for many in the library field. While the latest survey by Library Journal would indicate the needle has moved a bit, there is little doubt that many libraries still have a long road ahead of them. In that survey, fewer than 20 percent of all libraries have a marketing plan in place, and only 11 percent report that it is up-to-date. If that number doesn’t shock you, let’s talk about what it means not to have a marketing plan.
Urban Librarians Unite (ULU) collected more than 20,000 children’s books to help replace library collections damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The library advocacy and support group, founded by 2012 LJ Mover & Shaker Christian Zabriskie, also placed Mini Libraries in front of libraries that were closed by storm damage. Locations include Queens Library branches in [...]