Don’t wait for a budget presentation to make a case for needed funding or to describe library programs and services. To make sure the library is seen as an essential community service, tell the library story all year. Invite officials to library programs and activities. Ask the library director to provide reference services and assistance to city departments and officials. Share your successes with your city and county. Awards, record numbers at summer library programs, staff accomplishments and news articles should be part of regular reporting about the library to the city council.
As you carry out your advocacy role, make use of Telling the Library Story, an online toolkit for assisting Iowa libraries in explaining and demonstrating the value of their services.
In your community there are people who use the library and people who pay taxes to support the library but do not use it. Embrace all community members and be prepared to work with groups as well as individuals. This means not just waiting for an invitation, but initiating opportunities to meet with community groups such as Rotary, Kiwanis, school parent-teacher groups, Chamber of Commerce. Learn about community issues, interests and concerns. Work with the library director and other board members to communicate how the library can meet the needs of the community.
A successful advocate can bring new users and new revenues into the library, and increased awareness of library services. Legislators have been known to change their view of libraries after speaking to a trustee advocate. Or the people to whom you speak may be so enthused that they will write a bequest to the library in their wills, ask their employer to make a donation to the library, or speak to state or federal legislators on behalf of libraries.