Advocacy in Action

Advocacy in Action: Local Library Awareness Campaigns

This section is designed to help you plan and execute a successful library awareness campaign in your local community. Based on the approach devised by OCLC and used by more than 1,800 public libraries as Geek the Library, the Advocacy in Action resources will help you showcase the vital role of the library in your community and educate the public about the critical funding issues libraries face.

The campaign is organized in five phases. Apply each phase sequentially so that your campaign gains momentum and makes an impact.

Plan Your Campaign Create Awareness Generate Engagement Encourage Action Sustain the Momentum

Library Advocacy in Action: Top 10 Tips

1. Don’t Wait. Keep the library top of mind in your community all year round. If the community know you and see you as an involved community member, they are more likely to spread awareness about the value of the library.

2. Take the Library on the Road. Many of your supporters may never set foot in the library. Put the library where the people are and surprise your community by having a presence at events and places where they don’t expect to see the library. Take the library message to sporting events, the farmers’ market, and the mall—anywhere that people gather.

3. Make Connections. Connect with the community on a more personal level. Find new and consistent opportunities to engage with community members—especially influential members of the community.

4. Create Library Advocates. Ask people in the community or local organizations to spread a positive message about the library. The messages shouldn’t just come from you.

5. Partner in the Community. Build consistent and strong partnerships in the community. Bring value to local organizations and highlight distinct library resources, while putting the library in front of the broader community. Encourage your current partners to tell their stories to your funding bodies.

6. Empower Your Staff. Your staff members can be your biggest advocates. Make sure they are comfortable talking about the library in any context. Encourage them to start conversations in the community—on and off the clock.

7. Capture and Feature Compelling Stories. The lives you change every day humanize statistics and represent the most compelling format to talk about the value of resources, staff and the overall library. Show your community real examples of how the library provides essential value to individuals and the broader community. Tell these stories to the media and influential members of your community.

8. Use Statistics Effectively. Only use local and national statistics that are relevant to your community.

9. Integrate Messages and Effort. Think about the vehicles you are using to talk to the community and find ways to integrate messages that help solidify the library’s value. Ensure that the message is appropriate for the audience you are trying to reach.

10. Use Social Media. Beyond your website and other communication channels, dialogue with your community where they are most comfortable. Use the power of social media to consistently and effectively communicate the value of the library—and ask your fans to pass it on.

"The campaign helped teach the community that the library is there for everyone. It has made it easier to go out there and tell people about what the library needs. They see the library as a part of them and an important part of the community."

—Angela Semifero, Library Director, Marshall District Library

"Advocacy is something that needs to happen every day, with various activities from various people. It has to happen at a local level, with all the other stakeholders and then with community members. It can’t just come from the library."

—Stacy Reyer, Youth Services Librarian Manatee County Public Library System