Thursday, September 29, 2011

Jacksonville's budget vote...and beyond:
PLA's Turning the Page 2.0

On Tuesday night, September 27th, Jacksonville City Council restored $1.7 million of the almost $2.6 which the Finance Committee had proposed to cut from Jacksonville Public Library's FY 2011-12 budget.

We don't yet know how our administration will deal with the shortfall of nearly $1 million, yet we may not have to close all our branches on Mondays.

Jacksonville (FL) Public Library
Bountiful thanks are due to all of our supporters, many of whom came out in large numbers for the open City Council meetings over the past few weeks.

Even more thanks to the City Council members who advocated so strongly on behalf of the Library, and to all the Council for making tough choices.

As with so many governments right now, City Council has had to struggle to find a balance between social services and police and fire services—all the while knowing it is likely that municipal revenues will not rebound soon, and that we may have to go through this struggle again next year.

Between now and then, I urge library advocates to look for ways to build constructive partnerships with other city entities which "compete" for the budgetary pie. There is real value in nurturing a collaborative approach among city agencies, in order to transcend the funding challenge.

PLA's Turning the Page 2.0
In particular, I encourage folks to consider taking Public Library Association's online course on library advocacy, Turning the Page 2.0 (look here for more information).

TtP 2.0 includes six weekly one-hour webinars, along with about three hours/week of self-guided online activities. In the webinars, participants from library systems across the country share lessons and activities under the leadership of a skilled facilitator.

By the end of the course, members will have created an Advocacy Work Plan, and they will have gained a readily applicable understanding of the following topics:

  • Seeking public and private funding
  • Developing strong leadership skills
  • Developing a compelling story about the library and its value to the community
  • Developing and executing community outreach and fundraising strategies
  • Building community alliances and partnerships
  • Becoming an effective public speaker and enhancing personal presentation skills
One of my favorite exercises involved an imaginary small town library whose staff figured out how to partner with the local police, sharing facilities and services, so that the police would be allies rather than opponents in the budget process.

Whatever we do over the next few years, the most important thing we must do is to make certain that all of our customers, all of our stakeholders, know explicitly what libraries can do for them... and how we can work with them to support our communities.

Good luck,
Mike

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