These Slides are Available
• Stephen’s Lighthouse.com
• At the conference site
• In French and English
• Feel free to download, read, and re-use.
Free FOPL Advocacy and Influence
• FOPL is excited to announce that access to our member training series is now open for members and non-members. This is a series
of webinars and teleconferences to build our sector's capacity for influence and advocating for the value of public libraries.
• #1&3: Factors influencing funding decisions by elected politicians at the state/provincial level: a case study of public libraries in
Canada: Part 1 & 2
– Instructor: Cheryl Stenström, PhD
• #2: Advocacy in Town and County libraries
– Speaker: Sam Coghlan (Retired, Stratford Public Library)
• #4: Advocacy for Urban Libraries
– Speaker: Ken Roberts (Retired, Hamilton Public Library)
• #5: The Top 6 Best Practices for Advocates in Any Setting
– Instructor: Professor Wendy Newman, MLS, University of Toronto iSchool
• #6: Community communication strategy at the Burlington Public Library
– Panel: Stephen Abram, Moderator
– Kerry Langford, Burlington Public Library Trustee
Maureen Barry, CEO, Burlington Public Library
• #7: Training in positive networking techniques and theories
– Instructor: Ken Haycock, MLS, MBA, PhD, University of Southern California
• #8: Advocacy in Small, Rural and Mid-Sized Libraries
– Moderator: Stephen Abram, FOPL
Mary Baxter, Georgina Libraries
Claire Dianne, Russell Public Library
Susan Downes, Innisfil Public Library
Rona O'Banion, King Township Public Library
Cindy Weir, Owen Sound Public Library
University of Toronto iSchool Advocacy
• Library Advocacy Unshushed
• Become a powerful advocate for the values
and future of libraries and librarianship. Be
informed, strategic, passionate, and
What is FOPL?
• Simply put: Ontario’s Public Libraries.
• Now more than ever before, we play a critical role in the social,
educational, cultural and economic success of the communities in our
province. Public Libraries are an essential investment in the future of our
communities and are essential drivers of success in school preparedness,
reading readiness, economic and employment success, and social equity.
As the development of the knowledge economy progresses, public
libraries are a vital link for every resident and every community to ensure
success of all Ontarians, regardless of location or background.
FOPL Talking Points
The Public Library value proposition is strong
and includes (but isn’t limited to):
– Excellent Return on Investment
– Strong Economic Development
– Great Employment Support
– Welcoming New Canadians
– Provable Early Literacy Development
– Ongoing Support for Formal Education and Homework Help
– Serve the whole community equitably
– Affordable access to community resources
– Access to Government Services and e-government
– Questions Deserve Quality Answers
– Support Cultural Vitality
– Recognized and Valued Leisure Activities for majority of Ontarians
• Homework positioning
• Seniors positioning
• Economic Positioning
• Early Years Positioning
• Digital Divide and Access Divide
• Infrastructure capacity
• STEAM positioning and Maker + + +
What’s the ‘Problem”?
• We have a very COMPLEX (not complicated)
• We have great competencies BUT we need to
up our game on influence, advocacy, and
Public Libraries Transform
• 99.34% of Ontarians have access to public library service.
• 444 municipalities offer public library service through 1,157 service
• Almost 5.0 million Ontario residents have active library cards and over
75% of Ontarians used their library last year
• Ontarians borrow 131+ million items a year.
• Ontario’s public libraries provide access to 11,500 public computer
workstations, and hundreds of online resources.
• Ontario’s public libraries offer 203,964 programs with annual attendance
of 3,719,083 people.
• All of this at less than 49 cents per capita!
Source: 2013 Ontario Public Library Statistics, Ontario Ministry of
Advocacy is Different
• Public Relations is getting your library’s
message across – This is who we are and what
we do, where and for whom.
• Marketing is understanding your customer
and how to best deliver services and products
• Advocacy is marketing an ISSUE. Support and
awareness are built incrementally. Advocacy is
an agenda and not an event!
Ask Yourself . . .
How do libraries differ as an issue?
Are libraries different than other community
or tax funded services?
Are librarians different than libraries?
View from the listener’s point of view and
You are engaging in an INFLUENCE
Selling is not a dirty word!
Politics is not a dirty word!
You are engaging in a long term relationship!
Invest your personality
Position Yourself and not merely your
library’s resources and spaces. . .
YOUR COMMUNITY IMPACT AND VALUE
YOUR RESOURCES BUT AS THE FOUNDATION FOR
OUTPUTS NOT INPUTS
YOUR COMPETENCIES – NOT JUST YOUR SKILLS
YOUR INSIGHTS AND ADVICE
YOUR NETWORK AND CONNECTIONS
What are you selling?
Managing Your Brand Equity
• Your social presence in person
– Active listening
– Conversation pieces
– The Introvert Advantage
Managing Your Brand Equity
• Your digital social presence
– e-mail signature
– Digital photo(s)
– Google search
– SEO SMO GEO
To whom must you advocate?
• Your board of directors…
• Your community - Users, non-
users, clients, customers…
• Politicians and councils
• Users, clients, customers…
• Who else?
Essentials for Advocacy
• Someone who cares
• Stories and Knowledge
• Respect for whom you need to influence
• Understanding beyond caricature (e.g. Politicians, the
“Boss”, Teens, Seniors, The “Public”, Vendors...)
Why is Advocacy Needed?
• Is our environment changing? Then you need to advocate and re-
• Are consumer or community expectations changing?
• Survive or Thrive? Choose words carefully since they frame
understanding . . .
• To avoid downsizing of locations, budgets, staff, collections that
hurt end-user success, opportunities and goals
• To address shallow thinking about the web, access, electronic
resources like e-books, or the role of community libraries
• To speak up for the silent majority of library users
• To position libraries in the minds of funders and decision-makers
• To prepare for future success and to build a well of support and
• To inoculate against political trends and competition for resources
and capital within communities (police, fire, parks, etc.)
Am I an introvert or extrovert or somewhere in between?
Who is the general audience? Who is interested?
What interests them?
What should I do to pique their interest?
Will they agree with what I have to say?
And will they commit or just nod?
If not (which will likely be the case!) what counter-arguments
should I be prepared to answer?
Key Tactical Tips
• Mirror body image and stance
• Introduce others
• Lead the conversation
• Engage and Disengage
• Share your ideas
• People don’t care how much you know until
they know how much you care.
• Follow through
Logic and values
Bias: Impact, Quality, Speed, Time-savings, Authority,
Comprehensiveness, strategic alignment with
community needs,... the Truth?!
Why do you think there’s a problem at all?
Is it conceptual or pragmatic? What are the costs? Is their
perception of the ‘issue’ the same as your’s? Competition?
What kind of solution do you propose?
Does it ask me to do something or to understand something?
Does it match the problem exactly?
Is it a relatively better way, compatible with my methods,
less complex, trialable, and observable?
Plan within a plan
• Identify your goal and message
• Establish relationships with key decision makers
• Work with key stakeholders, find new friends
• Link with groups that may influence decisions
• Stay up-to-date with research
• Keep plans ongoing
• Traditional versus New Statistics / Altmetrics
• Statistics versus Measurements
• Impact Studies using sampling
• Geo-IP data
• Massive increases in virtual usage
• Social Media
• Satisfaction surveys
Learn to tell a
Elections (Oct. 25th!): We can . . .
1. Inform our communities about the vital role
of libraries in the overall community priorities
2. Talk to and engage community groups that
value the public library.
3. Engage and Educate politically active citizens
in their roles as trustees, incumbents,
candidates, and political activists.
Short list of Election Ideas
• All-candidate meetings in libraries
• Voter registration tables in library branches
• Poll stations in library branches on Election Day
• Social media information strategies about the economic, social, learning and cultural impact
• Educational activities about the proven impact of public libraries
• Offer columns and articles to print media on major issues - print media shines during an
election. Be strategic.
• Offer programs on understanding the local election process for teens, young adults, new
Canadians, etc. Invite seasoned politicians and candidates to present.
• Up your TOUR game for community, candidates, counsellors and add photo-ops.
• Do a census of your employees. Do you know whom they know?
• Create events to get your message out there. Have volunteer thank you events
• Make everything viral. Use tools like social media, infographics, annual reports, and online
videos to position the library's goodness and impact well and memorably.
• Strategically determine the timing of your educational activities value of your library
• Review your distribution lists to assess what you can use them for promotion
Qualities of Effectiveness
• LISTEN first
• Be visible
• Be likable
• Be FOR something . . . not just against a policy or
• Be memorable
• Thank supporters for the past support - well and
• Follow up with a thank you note
• And don't complain, whine, attack, or be
• Library board members (trustees)
• The CEO
• Library management team
• Library staff
• The union leadership
• Community partners
• Other municipal departments (that may be partners or
competitors for public or funding attention)
• The community (groups, associations, individuals, donors)
• Your associations (FOPL, OLA, OLBA, OPLA, AMPLO, ARUPLO,
CELUPL, CULC) and suppliers (SOLS, OLS-N, vendors) who
have a shared interest in your success.
• Be short and to the point
• Avoid library jargon
• Be visual (pictures and charts)
• Avoid raw statistics and instead show
measurements and impact
• Make your point about impact memorable.
• Train everyone connected to your talking points
so that they can follow up and not just parrot.
Test Your Story(ies) using these ?’s
• Is it short and sweet? Can listeners quickly get the message and repeat it to others
• Is there just enough detail to get the point across or does it wander?
• Does if answer the basic questions: Who? What? When? Where? How?
• Will your audience appreciate the situation you are describing? Does this tale
• Is the situation unusual in any way? Can the ending be predicted? Where’s the
“punch line”? Are they likely to retell it?
• Does the story have a happy ending? Finish on a high note.
• Does this story implicitly illustrate an impact the library made and the outcome
• Does this story fit with your main business?
• Will the audience identify with or care about your story’s hero?
• Will the listener be able to remember this story? Can it be easily retold?
• Does the story have the potential to cause listeners to think about what it means
• Does the story have the potential to spring the listener to a new level of
understanding and action? 60
Implementation: Talking Point Tools
– Annual Reports
– Video (YouTube)
– Social Media (Facebook,
Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr,
– Press releases
– Print Media
Strategies – P’s and C’s and more
Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance
The Virtual Handout (English Content)
• Value of Libraries Megapost
• The Value of Public Libraries
• The Value of School Libraries
• The Value of Academic and College Libraries
• The Value of Special Libraries
• Library Advocacy: Save the Library Campaigns
• Springboard Stories
• Cheryl Stenström's dissertation
Stephen Abram, MLS, FSLA
Federation of Ontario Public Libraries
Stephen’s Lighthouse Blog