City Council meetings can be pretty boring. But this one in Dallas,Texas wasn't.
This meeting is chock full of effective library advocacy. In fact, the council members will probably remember these particular funding pleas for a long time.
If you only watch the first 3 minutes, you'll get the greatest stuff. Two library supporters rewrote Dr. Seuss' story about Thing 1 and Thing 2, who are looking for something to do. If council raised the library budget, they stated, then the public library could be open more hours, and all the local Things would be occupied and happy.
The rewritten rhyme was quite clever. And the councilors gave them a standing ovation.
Then came testimony from a 9-year-old girl—another winner. The next woman shared statistics and linked early literacy numbers to subsequent lower crime and drop-out numbers. I especially liked this strong statement (just before 8 min.):
"It is the most productive, it is the right thing to do, to build strong children rather than trying to fix broken adults."
Next, an elderly woman stepped up and proclaimed herself a "library junkie." Awesome. And all of that happened in 10 minutes.
Actually, the video of the whole 38-min. meeting is worth watching. Aside from 5 minutes on one unrelated topic, it's all about Library Love. At 18 min., a councilor speaks in favor of the library. Then, in turn, others address and thank the library advocates, talking about things like "educational impact." Clearly, the messages got through to them.
At about 24 minutes, an African-American councilman starts a diatribe on how much he values the library. He speaks passionately, and even urges his fellow council members, on the spot: "Let's move toward restoration [of the previous budget cuts]."
This, my friends, is a perfect example of how to represent libraries at city budget meetings. There were library supporters (or advocates) with a unique, customized, story that was entertaining and memorable. There was a cute kid, a sweet old lady, a nice old man, and more. They made an impact.
Wonder how these folks got so good at speaking out? Well, the Friends of the Dallas Public Library got a grant from United for Libraries and the Neal-Schuman Foundation:
United for Libraries has secured $75,000 from the Neal-Schuman Foundation to support library advocacy at the local level for libraries with troubled budgets. The Citizens-Save-Libraries grants will pay for travel and fees to send expert advocates to 20 locations over the course of two years to help friends of the library groups, library directors and trustees develop individual blueprints for advocacy campaigns to restore, increase or save threatened library budgets.
If your library didn't apply for this training, don't worry—you can still benefit from the free Citizens-Save-Libraries Power Guide. This toolkit is available to anyone, and it "lays out a step-by-step blueprint for libraries to follow in generating their own campaigns." Download it today!
Libraries must be at the budget table.
So don't put it off; start as soon as you're able.
Just get the Power Guide and learn what to do.
It can't be too hard; I'll tell you, that's true.
It's already been done by Thing 1 and Thing 2.
And if they can do it, then so can you.