1. Be informed. Get information on the issues. Be sure to read MLC’s On the Same Page e-newsletter to stay informed about things going on.
2. Find out who your elected officials are at the local, county, and state levels. If you don’t know who your state legislators are you can use this website to make that determination or ask MLC for help: http://www.legislature.ms.gov. Be sure to include all senators and representatives from your district.
3. Put elected officials on your mailing lists and ask to be put on theirs. Mutual awareness of what each other care about is essential to building a strong relationship.
4. Share your success stories. Ask elected officials to distribute materials about your programs and activities at their office. Most of the elected officials will have a place in their offices for information about the districts they represent. Allow these people to be active in helping to promote your library.
5. Email a photograph to your elected officials if they attend one of your programs. Visual reminders help reinforce their awareness of your library – especially if the picture is of them at one of your events.
6. Say thank you – a lot! If you don’t have time to write, make a call. Never let the elected official forget you are out there.
7. Create visibility for your elected officials. Explore creative options for them to get positive exposure in their district through your library. Provide them with opportunities at your public events. Invite them to talk to your board, staff and patrons about the importance of your library to the community. This will force their staff to research your organization and get to know you better.
8. Act regularly and promptly. Don’t wait for someone else to take care of the issues. Make a commitment to do what you are able to do, no matter how small it may seem. Start believing that a single voice can make a difference.
9. Activate advocacy. Find others to join you in delivering your message. A business owner makes a meaningful case about the importance of your library to the community. A patron brings additional credibility to your case for the importance of your library. Make advocacy part of everyone’s job description (board, staff, and volunteers), because they all have a role to play in it.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask them for support! They work for YOU!
Library Advocacy Resources:
American Library Association
50 East Huron Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611-2795