Saturday, December 8, 2012

Advocating Your Library By Bringing In Others

Advocacy can't come from just once source  in order to be effective. In order to really be effective, advocacy must emanate from many different sources. If my graduate degree has taught me anything (and with the price tag it's got, I pray it has), it's that the key to getting a library to survive is collaboration. In the schools, it's collaborating with teachers to make lesson plans. In all libraries, it's figuring out what your community wants and then facilitate it for them.

Gaming in libraries is big right now. One of the biggest draws in the high school library where I did my secondary fieldwork was Game Day, where kids could bring in their YuGiOh cards, playing cards, board games, and what have you, and instead of using the library as a place for books, we had attendance skyrocket that day. We ran out of chess sets. I taught some kids how to play checkers - not that I'm very good, but I do know that the pieces can't move up and down, and there's no such thing as castling in that game - and the whole thing was a tremendous success. Loretta didn't even have to advertise it much, and she won't have to advertise much for the next one: the kids are doing it for her. I guess that would be the key to getting others to advocate for your library: tricking them into advocating for you.

How do you do that? You figure out what they like, and you give it to them. Finding out what they need is harder. Here are some tips.

  • Get ideas from your community. Who better to tell you how to draw people into the library than your customers? They know what they want, and if you ask them, they'll tell you. 
  • Try whatever comes to mind. If it doesn't work, you're one step closer to figuring out what does. 
  • Conscript others, because ideas are better when they're bounced around by several people. 
And here's a quick video I made to advocate my hypothetical library:

video