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Advocacy in a Library Setting. A “Talking Heads” Production FOLIOz: Making Your Case Successfully (Machiavel). Introduction.

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Advocacy in a library setting

Advocacy in a Library Setting

A “Talking Heads” Production

FOLIOz: Making Your Case Successfully (Machiavel)


  • “Today we are fortunate to be able to interview STAUNCH GUARDIAN OF RESOURCES (SGR) who will be sharing her tips on how to demonstrate not only that libraries can survive, but also that they can thrive!”

  • “So, SGR where do librarians typically fall short when making a case for their library?”

Why it matters
Why it matters

  • “Most librarians are skilled and experienced in communicating what their library is doing. Unfortunately they are not very good at conveying why it matters”

  • “Tackling the “what” may have the effect of increasing numbers of users. Focusing on “why it matters” extends beyond potential users to potential supporters”.

A meaningful distinction
A meaningful distinction?

  • “That is a very interesting distinction – but I am sure that, for many of our viewers, it is not an immediately obvious one”

  • “Could you perhaps illustrate the difference between these two approaches?”

Targeting supporters
Targeting supporters

  • “By tackling the “what” you are only spelling out the benefits for those who actually use the library service – and you know that typically those whom you want to support you are not heavy users of your library service – the Executive Board, for example.”

  • “By focusing on the “why it matters” you get them to appreciate why the library service is essential even if they do not personally benefit from it.”

More detail
More detail?

  • “Um…I see. So many librarians confuse getting influential non-users to start using their services with getting them on board as supporters. So they are targeting them with the wrong message, then?”

  • “But tell us, SGR, how exactly would you get such supporters to appreciate why the library service is essential?”

Picture this
Picture this!

  • “One approach is to try to paint a picture of what life would be like without your service. One service produced “mock ups” of their local newspaper with some headlines relating to stories that might occur if their service wasn’t there.”

  • “These could relate to harm, liability or unwelcome publicity. Alternatively they might relate to additional cost or ineffective use of time. Such scenarios can be most effective in conveying the need for a service.”

Where next
Where next?

  • “Thank you, SGR, that is a very practical starter for ten, can you tell us some more about successfully making a case? ”

Four basic ingredients
Four basic ingredients

  • “When it comes down to it, making a case successfully boils down to four basic ingredients. To be effective your message must be:

    • Politically powerful

    • Focused on desired outcome

    • Simple and repeatable

    • Flexible and adaptable to different audiences”

Politically powerful
Politically powerful

  • “Forget all that library-speak about stock and catalogues and literature searches. What a turn off!”

  • “Ask yourself, what is it that resonates with my community? What service do I provide that is important to them and their mission? How are we relevant to them? This may be about empowerment, it may be about lifelong learning or developing a skilled workforce. These are not mere buzzwords they are your very reason for being!”

Don t focus on processes
Don’t focus on processes!

  • “I will kick myself if I read one more library Web page that says something like ‘the Library's in-house online bibliographic database is fast and easy to use and will help you to find references to material, including articles in journals, held in the Library stock’.

  • This focuses on the structures and processes – it is library centric!”

Focus on desired outcomes
Focus on desired outcomes

“Try rewriting this into something like:

  • ‘Need a fact for the Annual Report, a soundbite for a presentation? You only need to type a few words into the Library computer and you will be pointed at a list of useful resources, all in the Library, to provide you with the information you need”.

  • This focuses instead on the business of the organisation – it is user-centric!”

Simple and repeatable
Simple and repeatable

  • “And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the importance of making something simple and repeatable. That is the real importance of a slogan – not for its own sake but to be memorable. Something like “Can’t manage without us?”, for instance.”

Flexible and adaptable to different audiences
Flexible and adaptable to different audiences

  • “And a common mistake that librarians make once they have got their message sorted out is to assume that everyone has the same agenda. The concerns of the Director of Human Resources, the Director of Teaching, the Director of Research Development will all be related to the business of the organisation. But they won’t by any means be the same”.

  • Focusing on the policy angle may work for one whereas another is much more likely to respond to a personalised scenario.”

Further reading
Further Reading?

  • “Thank you, SGR, for sharing those useful pointers.”

  • “Is there anywhere else that our viewers may go to find out more on how to make their case successfully?”

Summing up
Summing up

  • “Your viewers will want to secure their future and that of their service (politically powerful) by writing and presenting persuasive messages to influence their managers (focus on outcome).

  • Librarians need to learn how-to-do-it so I have found them a how-to-do-it manual for librarians that does exactly what it says on the cover (simple and repeatable). By following the same techniques public librarians will focus on the impact of their service. Management librarians will show that they are making a difference (Flexible and adaptable for different audiences)”

For further information
For Further Information

“The reference is:

  • Making the Case For Your Library: A How To Do It Manual. How To Do It Manuals for Librarians No. 104. Neal-Schuman Publishers Inc, 2001

  • And, coincidentally, the author’s initials are also SGR – Sally Gardner Reed - just like mine!”

  • And then, of course, you could also try the FOLIOz Course on Making Your Case Successfully – but then I guess you already know about that……!”

Goodbye from me
Goodbye from me

  • Thank you for your insights SGR and goodbye viewers!