I am copying most of this posting from my friends at the ‘M’ Word: Marketing Libraries Blog (Thanks Kathy and Nancy!).
People are always noting that the stuff that talks about the value of public libraries is ALWAYS from the echo chamber (librarians, library associations, library consultants and library vendors), those so interested in the success of libraries and so passionate about libraries that it runs the risk of being dismissed as self-interested or lobbyist work. Well take a look at this report:
“It’s called “Maximize the Potential of Your Public Library” – but it’s not for librarians – it’s for city managers! It was put out by the ICMA, the International City / County Management Association. Here’s how they describe it:
Learn how public libraries can help local governments tackle critical community priorities such as economic development, public safety, environmental sustainability, cultural diversity, education, and literacy. This new report and accompanying case studies provide examples and instructive guides on how public libraries in jurisdictions large and small are partnering with local governments and organizations to develop innovative solutions for important strategic community initiatives. [The ICMA lists this as a best practice for municipalities.)
Anyone can download it for free from here. (20 page PDF)
I did, and upon scanning the report … WOW. This is an absolute GIFT for public libraries that are trying to get / keep funding and to convince local officials that libraries are valuable to communities. This isn’t us saying it, it’s their peers not only saying it in case studies but also showing it w/ charts, quotes, and serious recommendations. I’m telling you, it would be hard to find something more valuable.
The results from these projects demonstrate that when libraries are actively involved in important and strategic issues, local governments have more assets and capabilities to address community concerns. Some of the capabilities libraries offer include: trained staff, physical facilities, technology assets, and access to large numbers of people in a neutral setting.
So email this link to your officials. Put a return receipt on the email so you know they’ve opened it. Propose to take them to lunch to talk about it. Print a copy, put a bow on that baby, and drop it off at their offices with a bundt cake or something. Do whatever you need to do in order to get this into their hands. This is GOLD for today’s struggling PLs. Spread the word!”
This report is NEW. It is done by the municipal leaders association (ICMA) and not by a library association. It contains real examples and success stories and it is in the language and context of local government. And it is only 20 pages long which is just right for very busy municipal employees and politicians and their staff.
Nancy and Kathy’s advaice is right on. Oh, and there’s nothing wrong with all of the other reports too (listed and linked here) and you can use them as meat for the bones and follow through.
Remember, nothing beats an e-mail or a letter better than a Starbucks trip and a short coffee conversation with the people with influence.
(More good work from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the ULC)