Communicating the Value of Libraries

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  rshader 1 year, 7 months ago.

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    This topic is for input and ideas on all aspects of communicating the value of our libraries, from understanding our audience to delivering a message that will be remembered and acted upon.

    Two days ago, I spoke to two of our state legislators in a public meeting. I had a few days to prepare for my allotted three minutes and took some time to write out my address and word-smith it a bit. I find it difficult to distill a message down to the essential elements, then communicate it in a way that it is likely to be remembered.

    One of the things that helped me distill my message down was Valerie Gross’ idea of communicating the value of libraries using the terminology and concepts of education, a ‘language’ that is better understood by people outside the field of librarianship. I did not use ‘education’ as my ‘language’ when addressing the politicians. But I did attempt to translate my speaking points according to two things I knew to be important to them. These were: 1) The needs of the citizens in their districts being served locally; and, 2) The state budget which is still recovering from the economic downturn.

    The real difficulty was to then explain what a ‘Multitype Library Cooperative’ is and why it is important to fund them in the state budget. I attempted to do this by citing the importance of the Cooperatives to the libraries in their own districts, that the libraries are closely involved with the cooperatives, and by showing that the cooperatives provide a good return on the money the state invests in them. I used the term ‘Library Cooperative’ in my address, instead of ‘Multitype Library Cooperative’ because the shorter term is the way it appears in the state budget.

    See the full text of my address to the legislators on PLAN’s website. Please share your experiences, ideas and questions about communicating the value of libraries.



    I also find it challenging to distill what PLAN is/does in a sentence or two. When I speak about the value of PLAN to my governing board or county administration, sometimes I call it a “regional library association that provides training and support services to libraries.” That gives them a frame of reference to which they can relate but I’m not satisfied that it’s the most comprehensive phrase. I would like to know how others describe PLAN to “muggles.”

    (As an aside, I have much the same difficulty describing my own position when someone asks what I do. “Cooperative coordinator” is NOT a title that’s intuitively understood.)



    My library borrowed an idea from Renae Rountree in Washington County, and printed three different Libraries Transform postcards. We will ask patrons to write about how the library has made a difference in their lives. We will collect the cards and deliver them to legislators and commissioners when we visit. The postcards are available for free download on the Libraries Tranform site, and Vista Print gave us a good price. Great idea Washington County!

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by  rshader.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by  rshader.
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