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LET'S TALK LIBRARIES

A blog from the Southern Ontario Library Service

Developing Clear Messages as We Plan Our Reboot

Like every other organization in the world, public libraries are frantically trying to plan for a future that is still very uncertain. Not only do we not know when we’ll get the green light from Provincial and local officials to re-open our buildings, we don’t know what it will look like when we do open the doors. Some of us are more advanced than others in developing a phased approach to returning to full service with some modifications. But regardless of the robustness of our plan, its success depends on our willingness to revisit every decision within it based on new information.

Some of that information – the most important information when it comes to re-establishing library service – concerns our funding. In the words of James Ridge, former CAO and Municipal World contributor, “every municipality’s 2020 budget is now meaningless, as are the commitments and priorities built into them.” (in the May 2020 issue of Municipal World). Municipalities might well be, as of this writing, the only sector in Canada not to receive some form of financial assistance from the federal or provincial governments, making it inevitable that austerity measures will come into play as part of any pandemic recovery plan. The public health costs alone make cuts elsewhere the sad reality we must all prepare for and take into consideration in any plans we do develop.

At the same time, it is imperative that library leaders develop clear, compelling messages aimed at municipal officials and community leaders, highlighting the very real ways the library can make a positive, meaningful contribution to the municipality’s recovery efforts to help their community rebound with spirit and resilience. In the current climate of competing needs, it is imperative that we become strong advocates who recognize the tremendous pressures the municipality is under, while making the case for the library as a valued community service that makes a difference in the lives of residents and the community.

SOLS is very committed to advocacy as crucial work on the part of library leaders, and we currently have two offerings to support this work:

  • Join us on May 21st at 11:00 for Effective Advocacy in the Current Political Climate. During this one-hour webinar, Dr. Kate Graham will share her insights and her expertise in local government. She will walk us through four components of effective advocacy that work together to build political will, understanding and, ultimately, support for the library. Dr. Graham comes to us as a Political Science Professor at Western University, a researcher in local government, and someone who has worked for a decade in local government. She’s a compelling presenter who blends theory with strategy and practice, rooted in a deep understanding of the realities of local government.
  • If you’re interested in better understanding what is meant by strategic, when it comes to communications, and/or want to learn how to create a simple message map or build a communications plan, check out our new online course Strategic Communications and Advocacy, just made available in LearnHQ.

We will continue to pursue other training opportunities to support the work of communications and advocacy. In the meantime, in addition to the above, we recommend you check out the OLA Advocacy Toolkit.

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