We Interrupt this Series for Municipal Elections
Posted on Friday September 24, 2010 at 12:08PM
We Interrupt this Series for Municipal Elections….
Politics make me nervous. Perhaps it’s the thought of secret agendas, back room negotiations and civil unrest. While living overseas I experienced a lot of political upheaval. I was in South Africa during the four-day election process in ’94 that saw the face-off between de Klerk and Mandela (to this day I still have a fear of low-flying helicopters as a result). While living in Ecuador, I saw four presidents come and go within a span of six weeks. Perhaps it’s this feeling of approaching turbulence that has me uneasy.
Perhaps it’s the idea that elections create a big unknown – who are these people? Why are they running? What do they stand for? Do I agree with them? How will their decisions affect my job and my life?
And what does this have to do with libraries?
The first library service response on the list of eighteen reads:
Be an Informed Citizen: Local, National, and World Affairs: Residents will have the information they need to support and promote democracy, to fulfill their civic responsibilities at the local, state, and national levels, and to fully participate in community decision making.
Whether or not this is a service response that your community has chosen to support, the upcoming elections are a great way to get your library in the community spotlight, discover which candidates support libraries, and advocate for the library. Invite the candidates, community and media to the library for an event. You can do a meet and greet which can be pretty low-key and allows the candidates to talk to the general public in a relaxed setting (and hopefully produces warm-fuzzies towards the library).
You could set up a more formal Q & A, which would allow library staff and board members to sit in with the community and ask the hard questions: What’s your stand on increasing funding towards the library to improve services/facilities/technology/collections, etc? You would want to prepare the candidates for questions like this by giving them information and stats on the library in advance (no one likes to be caught looking dumb, especially politicians, so having this info in advance helps them to better prepare, but also get to know more about the library). Treat all candidates equally. After the elections are over you do not want to appear to have backed the wrong horse.
Another option is to try to set up a debate between candidates, with topics provided by the public (including some library topics). This gives the candidates a platform to address issues and be seen, allows the public to have a better understanding of the people they will be voting for, and gives the media a juicy story to write about. It’s a win-win situation. Top that off with drawing more people into the library, appearing in the local paper, and advocating for the library, and you are looking so good! Politics is suddenly feeling a lot less scary.
Finally, on Monday, October 18th – go out and vote. We live in a country where we experience the highly underrated privilege of having safe and free elections. We choose who governs us. We can change the future.
I’ve linkedto advocacy information sheets from both Chinook Arch Regional Library System and the Marigold Library System. The Action Request document was put together by the Board of the Chinook Arch Regional Library System. The Advocacy @ your library document is part of an on-going series from the Marigold Library System and was written by Michelle Toombs, Director and Shona Gourlay, Consultant/Member Services.
. . .
Don’t forget that next week, September 25th – October 2nd is Banned Books Week. If you are doing a display or program on this theme in your library, please take pictures and send them to NLLS. I’d love to publish them in the December issue of the Aurora.
Next week you will be receiving posters and bookmarks for Canadian Library Month. If you’d like more information on how to promote this, please check out the CLA website at: www.cla.ca/clm10/
We have a couple of online training courses coming up: Marketing E-Resources through Programs, October 20, and Polaris Basics on November 10. Check out our website for more details: www.nlls.ab.ca/Training
Employee and Student Bursary applications are due at the end of October. For more information on these bursaries, please check the website, on the home page under What’s New? www.nlls.ab.ca/
I’ve also posted the notes and/or presentations for most of the conference sessions. You can either link to them from the home page under What’s New? www.nlls.ab.ca/, or go through the Documents tab.
Author: Northern Lights Library System
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