Keep this activity close to the top of the list of important functions you do as a trustee.

Our library message is important and trustees are messengers. Spread the word about what your library is doing and planning.

  • Tell your town/city – they will add your info to their web-site & more folks will see it
  • Tell your Chamber of Commerce – they talk to town business people
  • Tell your realtors – they talk to new residents
  • Tell your schools – they talk to parents & kids
  • Tell your county legislators – they can help your bottom line
  • Tell your state legislators – not only do they have the purse strings for libraries, they pass legislation!

So, participate in spreading the word.
Be sure to attend NYLA’S Legislative Advocacy Day on Tuesday, March 6, 2012. Get to Albany, or send some representatives. Check with your Library System, they may be sending a bus.

We need more messengers. Be visible.

This information below & much more can be found in the Trustee Handbook.

Public Relations and Advocacy

As the citizen control over the public library, the board of trustees has a responsibility for telling the library’s story to the taxpayers, donors and funding bodies that support it. Even the best programs and services are of limited value if people don’t know about them. Conversely, people are more likely to support programs they understand, value and use.

There are numerous ways to reach the public. One essential tool is a web site that broadcasts the library’s message and provides access to library services twenty-four hours a day.  Many libraries now maintain a presence onMySpace or Facebook and keep their patrons up to date with library blogs and Twitter accounts.  Some even maintain virtual libraries in virtual worlds like Second Life.

More traditional publicity avenues include newsletters, public service announcements and feature stories on radio, television and newspapers. Personal communication is always the most effective way to get the library’s message across in a meaningful fashion. Trustees are leaders in the community and must be prepared to discuss the importance of the library at every opportunity.

Public relations also involve partnerships. Trustees should look for ways to form networks and coalitions of library advocates. Many other organizations, such as the school district, service clubs, the chamber of commerce and local social service agencies have a vested interest in a strong and vital community library.

A critical aspect of public relations is legislative advocacy. Elected officials want to be invited to public events at the library and they should be on the mailing list for all library publications.  Dynamic boards and trustees write, call and visit their elected officials frequently. Trustees are in a unique position to be effective in the governmental arena because they are citizen volunteers with no direct financial stake in library funding decisions. Trustees keep the library’s financial needs in front of elected officials. Of course there are many other non-financial issues at the local, state, and federal level that affect libraries. Zoning ordinances, labor law, copyright, telecommunications rules, environmental regulations, censorship and many other issues can have an impact on libraries and trustees must ensure that the library’s interests are well represented.

Many trustees support library lobbying through their active membership in the Library Trustees Association of New York StateNYLA  and New Yorkers for Better Libraries PAC.