The Vanishing Quaker

Sunday, September 24, 2006

More on talking to Congress

Alas, there seems to be a problem with this site at the moment, but this looks like an interesting article if I can ever get to it:

“Communicating with Congress: How Capitol Hill is Coping with the Surge in Citizen Advocacy”
CMF’s latest report on how the Internet and e-mail has changed the communications process between citizens and Capitol Hill. Includes survey, interview, and focus group data from 350 staffers in 202 congressional offices. More..."

Forget about any thoughts of librarians being little old ladies in comfortable shoes. When freedom of speech and information is involved, they are lions and tigresses and are one of the loudest voices against abuse of the PATRIOT Act.

Communication is one of their strong points, and here's a tidbit from the ALA site about how to get a bit more sympathy from a congresscritter:

"Why share your library's story?
Use Effective Stories To Make Your Case Personalize The Policy

Stories add insight and humanity…

Your members of Congress will remember your library's story - they are relying on YOU to show them what policy means for the real people who use the library in your community.

Most library experiences don't seem dramatic on the surface, but the impact libraries have for real people is significant

Statistics can be impressive, but personal stories bring the library message to life. Always match a statistic with a story.

How Do You Tell Your Library's Story?

Be simple and brief

Make sure your message is clear

The story should illustrate your point

Only use real names if given permission: So get permission!

Have a punchline

What Makes An Effective Story?

Stories that show how a person uses and benefits from the library
Stories that tie a person who used the library to his/her accomplishment with library resources

for example…

"We here at the Cresco Public Library depend on E-rate funding to provide the Internet (through reduced phone bill costs) to patrons who do not otherwise have access to a computer (The message containing your main point). The library is located in Howard County, the poorest county in Iowa. Access to computers via the public library enables school children to do research and reports, retired people to e-mail their grandchildren, and parents to e-mail and chat via computer messenger systems with their children serving in Iraq (A brief, two sentence, real-life story about the patrons who use your library to illustrate your main point). Our library is currently funded at $15,000 less than it was two years ago (A statistic supports your story and illustrates your main point). We depend on E-rate funding. I urge you to approve legislation to save the E-rate. (The Punchline).


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