February 17, 2018

Mandy Knapp & Laura Solomon | Movers & Shakers 2010 – Advocates

Library Journal March 15, 2010: Mandy Knapp, Mover & Shaker

Ohio’s Salvation

At approximately 4 p.m. on Friday, June 19, 2009, Ohio governor Ted Strickland announced a proposal for 50 percent budget cuts to the Ohio library system. Mandy Knapp (pictured left), adult services librarian at the Worthington Libraries, was sick on Friday and didn’t check her email until Sunday. When she learned of the crippling cuts, “I felt like a she-bear protecting her cubs,” says Knapp, who lives in Columbus. She immediately contacted a friend, librarian and web designer Chris Thompson; then “whipped out the credit card and bought the domain saveohiolibraries.com.”

Over 100 miles away in South Euclid, OH, Laura Solomon (pictured below), library services manager at the Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN), was following Twitter talk about the library on Friday. Solomon, who has been “teaching libraries about effective social media for some time,” contacted Knapp the day after saveohiolibraries.com went up. She helped Knapp redesign the web site to handle emerging needs and, she says, “It all snowballed Library Journal March 15, 2010: Laura Solomon, Mover & Shakerfrom there.”

Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton and author Neil Gaiman turned out for the cause. Solomon made a Twitter hashtag to collate information (#saveohiolibraries). A SaveOhioLibraries Facebook page attracted 50,000 members in less than three weeks. Governor Strickland’s computer crashed from the avalanche of emails protesting the cuts. The phones rang so much that “the staff at the statehouse stopped taking names and started counting,” says Solomon.

Save Ohio libraries they did. Saveohiolibraries.com was critical in the restoration of over 7 million in state funding through social networking and outreach. Along the way, there were near-heartbreaking moments—like when Knapp learned of a note that a child wrote at a rural Appalachian library: “Pomery’s library is my favorite place to read. My only place.”

Solomon, who has since been contracted by the American Library Association to write a book on using social media effectively for public libraries, has learned that “sleep is optional.” Also, “social media is very much like a fire hose once it’s turned on full blast. You can direct it, but you can’t control every drop.”

As for Knapp, a can-do attitude saw her through, and she’s ready to face future budget challenges. “I’m a very DIY person. During the budget crunch in June, one person or another would say, ‘Oh, someone should do _____,’ and I always wanted to reply, ‘Yes, and that someone is you. You can make a difference all by yourself.’” The Ohio Library Council passed a resolution in her honor, and it is displayed in her office.


Mandy Knapp, Worthington Libraries, OH, and Laura Solomon, Ohio Public Library information Network (OPLIN)

Mandy Knapp

CURRENT POSITION Librarian, Adult Services

DEGREE MLIS, University of Pittsburgh, 2007

FREE TIME Hockey fan; tries to play the banjo

Laura Solomon

CURRENT POSITION Library Services Manager

DEGREE MLS, Kent State University, 1998

PRIMARY HOBBY Competitive Irish stepdance